With its rolling country highways, mountaintop vistas, and pastoral farmlands, Washington State is an oasis for motorcyclists of every stripe. No other state provides motorcycle riders with access to both lush rain forests and dense urban cityscapes, all within a half a day’s ride.
Before venturing out, however, motorcyclists should brush up on just what laws Washington has on the books regarding the use of motorcycles on its public highways. Many of these laws are similar to those found in other states. Others, however, are unique to the Washington State, so it’s wise to learn what the law is or you might end up on the wrong side of a hefty fine.
Below are the most important Washington State laws every motorcyclist should know before firing up their hog and hitting the road.
In order to legally operate a motorcycle on Washington State roads you will first need a driver’s license for regular automobiles. Only after you have obtained a state-issued driver’s license can you apply for a proper motorcycle endorsement. According to RCW 46.04.330 of the Washington State Legislature, a motorcycle is defined as any “motor vehicle designed to travel on not more than three wheels.”
An endorsement can be obtained in one of two ways. First, you can take a state-approved instructional course that will show you how to properly operate a motorcycle. After completing such a course, you must then bring the certificate you earned to your local Department of Motor Vehicles within 180 days. The other way to get a motorcycle endorsement is to take a knowledge and riding test at the DMV itself. As soon as you get an endorsement, you’re ready to legally start riding.
Washington Motorcycle Insurance Laws
While Washington State does not motorcyclists to have insurance when they ride, it is strongly recommended that you do purchase insurance coverage since motorcycles can be extremely dangerous. Washington State requires motor vehicles to have, at minimum, the following automobile insurance coverage: $25,000 in bodily injury, $10,000 for property damage, and $50,000 in bodily injury liability for up to two or more passengers. Buying a motorcycle insurance policy with this at least this amount of coverage would be the best place to start in ensuring you have the proper insurance before you ride.
Motorcycle Helmet Laws
There is no two ways about it. You must absolutely wear a helmet while riding a motorcycle on Washington State roads. It’s the law. Any rider caught without a helmet could potentially face stiff penalties. Motorcycle helmets may not be the most stylish accessory. But a helmet could one day save your life. Multiple studies have shown that wearing a helmet greatly reduces the risk of suffering a traumatic brain injury (TBI), so do yourself a favor and strap a helmet on today.
Additional Washington Motorcycle Laws
Similar to other drivers on the road, motorcycle riders are required to follow the basic traffic laws, such as stop signs, traffic lights, and the rules governing lanes. Motorcyclists should also follow any and all instructions from police officers they encounter on the road.
Unfortunately, not all red-light sensors are capable of detecting the lower weight of motorcycles, so it is legal for motorcyclists to continue through a red light if it does not change after a considerable amount of time. Any motorcyclist who wishes to proceed through a red light should follow these instructions:
- Come to a complete stop at the red light
- Wait for oncoming traffic to be completely clear
- Be wary of pedestrians or turning traffic in your blindspot
Motorcycles should, also, not exceed the strict decibel limits put in place by Washington State law. In short, motorcycles should be no louder than 78 dBA when traveling under 45 miles per hour and no louder than 82 dBA at speeds above 45 miles per hour. Loud sounds can be dangerous around jumpy drivers, so make sure your motorcyle is up to code.
Riding between lanes, so-called lane splitting, is illegal in Washington State and carries a hefty fine. No matter how tempting it may be to split lanes and cruise through a traffic jam this type of practice is exteremely dangerous. You run the risk of being crushed between cars or even doored. Trust me. You do not want to be doored.
Washington Motorcycle Accident Lawyers
If you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle accident through no fault of your own, you will need an Advocate on your side to help you through the aftermath. Our attorneys have decades of experience helping motorcycle accident victims just like you. So, don’t hesitate to contact our office for a free evaluation of your case. You can either call us at 206-452-4200 or chat online right now with a live attorney. Don’t wait to get back on the road to recovery. Contact us today. You deserve an Advocate!