Warmer weather in spring and summer brings an influx of motorcycle traffic. Unfortunately, this often results in an increase in auto accidents involving motorcycle riders.

Review the rules of the road in North Carolina to protect yourself when you head out on your bike this season.

Helmet laws

North Carolina law requires riders and passengers to wear motorcycle helmets at all times. The helmet must have a permanent manufacturer DOT symbol on the back, which shows it complies with the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard for motorcycle helmets.

Motorcycle equipment

Only street-legal motorcycles may operate on the road in North Carolina. The state considers a bike street legal only when it has two mirrors, a horn, turn signals, front and rear brakes, and a headlight, taillight and brake light. All passengers must have a permanent, designated seat.

Licensing

Drivers who already have a regular, commercial or full provisional driver’s license can operate a motorcycle legally in North Carolina with a motorcycle endorsement. They must take a training course and pass a road test to earn this driver’s license qualification. Drivers ages 16 to 18 must have signed consent from a parent or guardian.

Motorcycle operation

In general, motorcycle riders must follow the same traffic laws that apply to drivers of other motor vehicles. North Carolina bikers should also be aware of a few motorcycle-specific exceptions.

Motorcyclists can proceed when the traffic light as red as long as the intersection is free of pedestrians and other vehicles. The biker must first stop completely and wait three or more minutes.

Motorcycles may use the full lane. While two bikers can ride side-by-side next to one another, a motorcyclist cannot share a lane with a car or ride between two lanes.

Following these laws can reduce your risk of a catastrophic auto accident injury. Motorcyclists represent a disproportionate number of these accidents and must take defensive driving precautions to stay safe.