Motorcycle Laws in New JerseyNew Jersey Legal News
Motorcycles have many advantages over passenger vehicles, like fuel efficiency, but they also require a unique set of skills to operate safely and come with a dramatically increased risk of severe injury or death in the event fo a collision. Because of these realities, New Jersey has implemented a few crucial regulations concerning the operation of motorcycles that are meant to make sure everyone who rides one is as safe as possible.
Personal Safety Gear
A motorcycle isn’t equipped with airbags, crumple zones, and a roll cage like a passenger car. Every time you ride, you should wear a full set of sturdy, abrasion-resistant clothing, including a jacket with long sleeves, long pants, gloves, and boots that reach past your ankles, but a few pieces of driving gear are required under state law because they can ultimately mean the difference between life and death on the road. It can also mean becoming another motorcycle fatality statistic recorded by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. According to NHTSA, riders are 29 times more likely to be killed in a car accident than those traveling in passenger vehicles. There are certain protections motorcycle riders should always wear. They include:
- Helmets. All motorcycle riders in the state of New Jersey, regardless if they are operating the vehicle or are just a passenger, are required to wear an approved helmet in accordance with the US Department of Transportation Federal Motor Vehicle Standards. Approved helmets will have a DOT symbol on the outside area on the back of the helmet. Three styles of helmets have approved models: the full-face helmet with visor, the one-half helmet, and the three-quarter helmet. While it’s possible to find approved models in all styles, the full-face helmet is by far the safest option, and it will also satisfy the requirement for eye and face protection that will be discussed later. Approved helmets have to be fastened securely with a chin strap and have four inches of reflector tape — in either red, amber, or white — attached to each side. Your helmet should also show no signs of obvious damage. Motorcycle helmets are designed to absorb the impact of a collision instead of your skull, and a cracked helmet is not strong enough to provide full protection.
- Eye & Face Protection. In addition to wearing a DOT approved helmet, a rider is also required to wear approved protective equipment to cover their eyes and face, such as goggles, a face shield, or a windscreen installed on the bike itself. Approved full-face helmets already have adequate face shields, but other kinds of helmets have to be supplemented with additional protective equipment. Acceptable eye and face protection is scratch-free and shatterproof, can fasten securely, and is ventilated to prevent fogging. It also does not obstruct peripheral vision and provides enough room for any sunglasses or prescription eyeglasses that are needed for the rider.
Any motorcycle that is operated on public roadways is required to conform to NHTSA’s Federal Vehicle Safety Standards, which impose many different requirements concerning the number, type, and position of lights, rear-view mirrors, and reflectors on a motorcycle. Compliant vehicles should display an NHTSA certification label on their vehicle. Also, New Jersey has a few key requirements for all motorcycle features. They include:
- Handle Bars. The handlebar grips of a motorcycle have to be positioned above the rider’s shoulders while they are seated normally on the bike. This regulation is controversial in many states, including New Jersey, have adopted it in the past, but some officials have suggested that handlebars that are too high can make steering difficult and can even increase arm fatigue while riding.
- Passenger Seating. No occupant of a motorcycle, no matter if it’s the passenger or operator, can ride on any part of the motorcycle other than the seat. A rider can only carry a passenger if the bike’s seat is designed to accommodate more than one person. Violation of this rule is dangerous and also lead to a fine as much as $100.00.
Riding a motorcycle involves many different skillsets compared to driving a passenger vehicle. It requires that the rider stay alert for all possible hazards that impact a motorcycle differently than they would a heavier, four-wheeled vehicle. In order to make sure that all riders are prepared to deal with these additional challenges, New Jersey has more licensing requirements in place for motorcycles. A motorcycle endorsement may be added to an existing New Jersey state driver’s license, or an unlicensed driver could choose to obtain a license that applies exclusively to motorcycles, though the latter option comes with more strict requirements.
In all cases, the licensing process begins by first obtaining a permit, requiring a fee and some basic testing. The permit period will depend on the age of the applicant, if they have an existing driver’s license, and if they have taken and passed a rider education course. For riders under the age of 18, the course is required. Riders without an existing driver’s license are required to maintain their permit for a longer period of time before obtaining their license, and their license is Class E (probationary) for the first year.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a serious motorcycle accident, contact a qualified New Jersey motorcycle crash attorney for a consultation.
Motorcycle Accidents in New Jersey
While overall motorcycle fatalities are on the decline, riders are still overrepresented in national roadway fatalities. 4,985 motorcyclists were killed in 2018 alone. Drivers and motorcyclists need to share the road and be aware of potential hazards in order to keep everyone safe. It’s also important for riders to be as visible as possible in order to reduce their risk of an accident.
Brady, Brady, & Reilly, LLC is here to fight for your rights after an accident. We’re here to make sure that your legal rights are protected and that you recover the compensation you deserve. Give us a call today at (201) 997- 0030 to discuss your case with a New Jersey motorcycle crash attorney.