Many Louisianians enjoy motorcycling around our beautiful state, and it’s easy to see why. Our miles of scenic coastline; our highways running through marsh, swamp, and bayou; and our wide-open roads lend themselves to some of the best motorcycle riding you can enjoy.
However, to safely ride in our state, you need to be sure and follow the rules of the road. This is especially important for motorcyclists, since they have much higher rates of fatality than other vehicles when involved in accidents. Even though motorbikes only account for around 3% of registered vehicles in the U.S., motorcyclists experience around 15% of all traffic-related fatalities. In fact, motorcycle riders are 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than other drivers, according to recent data.
In Louisiana, motorcycle laws are designed to help riders keep as safe as possible while on the highways, byways, and surface streets of our state. Whether you’ve just bought a bike, or have been riding for years, it never hurts to read a refresher on Louisiana’s motorcycle laws.
Getting Your Motorbike: Motorcycle Licensing and Inspection
Before hitting the road, you’ll need a motorcycle endorsement from the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles (OMV). You can get one from the OMV after passing a motorcycle knowledge and skills test, and it’s affixed to your regular driver’s license. You’ll also need to have your bike inspected within 40 days of purchase, as well as pay necessary taxes before registering it.
Requirements for Your Bike
Louisiana law makes some stipulations for the construction and configuration of motorcycles to be considered street-legal. Most of these are to ensure motorcyclists’ safety while on the road.
Footrests and Handlebars
According to Louisiana law, motorcycles must have a footrest for the operator and all passengers. The handlebars of the motorcycle must also fall below your shoulders, or be level with them, when you’re sitting on your seat. The reason for the handlebar height is that higher handlebars make the motorcycle harder to control; with handlebars at or below your shoulders, you will be better-able to steer.
Motorcycles must have a “permanent and uniform seat,” whether for one rider or two. Motorcycles with one seat can be ridden by two passengers, but only if designed for the purpose.
In addition, you should sit on the seat “facing forward, with not more than one leg on each side of the motorcycle.” Louisiana also forbids riding a motorcycle while carrying a package or child that interferes with the motorcycle’s operation.
Children can ride on a motorcycle, provided they’re at least five years old, fit properly on the passenger seat, and wear a helmet. If your child needs a car seat, they are not allowed to ride on a motorcycle.
The Gear You Need to Ride Safely
One of the main draws of motorcycle riding is how close you can feel to the road. However, that closeness also comes with greater danger of injury or death in the even of an accident. For these reasons, Louisiana mandates certain gear to be worn every time you ride.
Louisiana Helmet Laws
While a motorcycle is moving, both operator and passengers must wear a suitable helmet. Louisiana R.S. 32:190 defines appropriate and approved protective gear as having the following:
- Adequate padding to weaken the force of head collisions
- Lining around the head for comfort
- A protective visor to shield the eyes
- A chin strap that secures the helmet to the rider’s head
Not only is it the law—helmets are proven to save lives. Studies show that wearing a helmet reduces your risk of a serious head injury by nearly 70%, and fatality by 42%.
When riding a motorcycle, your eyes can be at risk from gravel kicked up from cars, high wind speeds, and more. That’s why Louisiana requires protective eye gear if your motorcycle doesn’t have a high-enough windshield to fully protect your face. You’ll also need non-tinted eyewear for riding at night.
Motorcycle Rules of the Road
Another consideration to make on every ride is how you’re legally allowed to use the road. Thankfully, in Louisiana, motorcycles have the full use of every traffic lane—it’s illegal for a car or truck to shoulder you out of your rightful spot. However, motorcyclists are not able to ride side-by-side in one lane, or do the following while riding:
- Pass another vehicle in the same lane it occupies (the only exception is a police officer on official duties)
- Drive your motorcycle between lanes, or between rows of passenger vehicles
- Carry anything that prevents holding the handlebars with both hands
- Ride in any configuration other than straddling the bike, facing forward
What to Do If You Do Get Injured While Riding
While riding a motorcycle can be some of the most fun you’ll have on the road, but it isn’t without its dangers. Motorcyclists are less visible and less protected than drivers of passenger cars, so if they do get into an accident, they’re more likely to experience catastrophic injuries.
If you’ve been injured in a motorcycle wreck due to the fault of another driver, you deserve compensation to help pay for your hospital bills, lost wages, and other costs. Call the experienced and compassionate motorcycle injury lawyers at Gordon McKernan Injury Attorneys.
We have decades of experience helping motorcycle injury victims get the care they need to move on with their lives, and we can help you too. Give us a call at 888.501.7888 for a free legal consultation today.