Washington State Motorcycle Laws

Motorcycles can be incredibly exhilarating vehicles to operate. However, motorcycle riders also face higher risks of sustaining severe injuries when accidents do occur. Motorcyclists do not have much protection from the force of a passenger vehicle slamming into them, and even cyclists who wear helmets are susceptible to serious injuries. The best way to prevent serious accidents from occurring is for motorcyclists and vehicle drivers alike to learn and understand Washington’s motorcycle laws.

Laws pertaining to motorcyclists in Washington

Only licensed motorcycle riders who comply with state laws can legally operate a motorcycle in Washington. Following motorcycle laws in this state is about more than just getting a license to operate the vehicle. These laws are about being safe and responsible in every aspect of motorcycle operation. A quick summary of motorcycle laws in Washington include the following:

  • Riders must wear DOT-approved motorcycle helmets that are in good repair as well as eye protection.
  • Motorcyclists must have passenger seats and footrests in order to carry passengers other than the driver.
  • Motorcyclists under the age of 18 must pass a motorcycle education course before operating.
  • No passenger may be under the age of five.
  • The motorcycle headlight and taillight must remain on when riding.
  • The maximum handlebar height for a motorcycle is 30 inches above the seat.
  • Motorcycles must have a left and right mirror
  • Motorcycles must have working turn signals.

In Washington, legislators have made it more difficult for riders to get a motorcycle license. As of January 1, 2020, motorcycle riders must first pass a permit knowledge test and a permit riding skills test in order to get their motorcycle permit. A motorcycle permit is good for 180 days, but it can be renewed for another 180 days before it expires. Those who operate on a permit are not allowed to carry a passenger or ride when it is dark outside.

After a motorcycle rider has passed the permit-level tests and received their motorcycle permit, they will also need to pass the endorsement knowledge and endorsement writing skills exams before they can receive their full motorcycle license.

Data available from the Washington Department of Transportation shows us that there were nearly 2,000 total motorcycle collisions across the state during the latest reporting year. Out of these incidents, there were:

  • 90 fatal collisions
  • 399 suspected serious injury collisions
  • 539 suspected minor injury collisions
  • 602 possible injury collisions

This data shows us that motorcyclists have a high probability of sustaining an injury or a fatality in the event a collision occurs. The motorcycle laws in Washington are designed with the knowledge that one mistake made by a motorcycle rider could result in severe injuries. It is not uncommon for a motorcycle crash to result in the following injuries for the motorcyclist:

  • Spinal cord injury with paralysis
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Broken and dislocated bones
  • Severe lacerations or puncture wounds
  • Internal organ damage or internal bleeding
  • Amputation or crush injuries
  • Severe road rash

The best way to prevent motorcycle accidents is for both motorcyclists and passenger vehicle drivers alike to understand the laws regarding the safe operation of these vehicles. If you or somebody you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by the negligent actions of another driver, you should seek assistance from a skilled Seattle motorcycle accident attorney as soon as possible. A Seattle personal injury attorney will work to secure any compensation you are entitled to.