Alabama Motorcycle Safety Laws
There were over 8 million motorcycles registered in the United States in 2014 and that number continues to grow. Riding a motorcycle can be fun, but it does not come without risk. According to the NHTSA, motorcyclists are 35 times more likely than passenger car occupants to die in a crash and nearly five times more likely to be injured. This is because motorcyclists and passengers lack the protection an enclosed vehicle provides during a crash.
Motorcycles present a different set of risks and challenges as compared to a car. In an effort to reduce the number of fatal motorcycle accidents and injuries due to motorcycle crashes, Alabama has enacted a number safety laws that apply specifically to motorcyclists. Anyone operating or riding on a motorcycle in the state of Alabama should be aware of these laws and how they may impact you in the event of an accident.
Alabama Helmet Law
Alabama is one of 19 states with a universal helmet law, which requires anyone riding or operating a motorcycle to wear protective headgear. Not only does complying with the law keep you out of trouble, research has shown that wearing a helmet can significantly reduce the risk of head and neck injuries.
One out of every five motorcycle crashes results in head or neck injuries. Serious head injuries, in particular, are one of the most common causes of fatalities in motorcycle crashes. It is estimated that motorcycle helmets saved 1,669 lives in 2014 alone.
Alabama Motorcycle License Requirements
Until very recently, Alabama was the only state that did not require motorcyclists to obtain either a designated motorcycle license or a motorcycle endorsement. However, as of January 1, 2016, a motorcycle operator is required to obtain a class M endorsement on their driver’s license.
In order to obtain the class M endorsement, bikers have to take a safety course or pass a written test. The new law was introduced as a way to reduce the number of motorcycle accidents caused by inexperienced or untrained bikers.
Alabama Laws for Motorcycle Passengers and Safe Operation
Passengers are prohibited from riding on a motorcycle unless it is designed and equipped with foot pegs to carry more than one person. Alabama also has lane sharing and passing laws, which state that:
- Motorcyclists cannot pass a vehicle in the same lane as the vehicle being overtaken
- Motorcyclists cannot ride between lanes (i.e. lane splitting) or between rows of vehicles
- Motorcyclists can ride abreast in the same lane, but there can be no more than two motorcycles in the same lane
Common Causes of Motorcycle Accidents
- Failure to see motorcyclists
- Motor vehicle turning left into the path of a motorcycle
- Vehicle changes lanes into a motorcycle
- Impaired driving
- Car opens door into the path of a motorcycle
- Sudden stops
- Poor road conditions or dangerous surfaces (e.g. loose gravel)
- Taking a corner too fast
- Inclement weather
Contact Our Alabama Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Today
Wearing the proper protective gear and undergoing training can certainly help reduce the incidence and severity of motorcycle accidents, but other drivers will not always be so cautious. If you have been injured in a motorcycle crash that was the result of another driver’s negligence, contact the motorcycle accident attorneys at Belt, Bruner, & Barnett P.C. for help.
With more than 65 years of collective experience in the courtroom, our lawyers can answer any questions you may have, explain your options, and help you navigate the legal process. With offices in Birmingham, Mobile, Huntsville, and Montgomery, our attorneys will quickly travel to investigate the details of your case and may be able to help you obtain compensation for your damages. We will fight to obtain the maximum possible compensation for your injuries so that you have the resources and peace of mind you need to rebuild your life. We have recovered more than $200 million in settlements and verdicts on behalf of our clients, some of which includes recoveries of $1 million or more in motorcycle accident cases.
Give us a call today at 205-933-1500 to schedule your free, no-risk consultation.
For additional information covering motorcycle laws, check out the Seventeenth Edition of the MSF Motorcycle Operator Manual (MOM).