Originally published on May 3, 2021.

Every state has its own set of laws regarding the use of motorcycles on our roads. Michigan is more lenient on motorcyclist requirements than other states, particularly when it comes to helmet use.

However , there are still plenty of laws that motorcyclists in Michigan should know to make sure they don’t get a ticket.

More importantly, motorcycle safety laws help keep riders safe!

Certain Riders Must Wear Helmets

Unlike many other states, Michigan doesn’t require all motorcyclists to wear helmets. However, motorcyclists in Michigan must wear helmets if:

  • They’re under the age of 21
  • They have less than $20,000 in first-party medical benefits insurance
  • They earned their motorcycle endorsement less than two years ago, or they haven’t passed an approved motorcycle safety course

Though other motorcycle riders aren’t legally required to wear helmets, doing so can dramatically reduce their chances of serious injuries or death if involved in crashes. In fact, research supports that riders who don’t wear helmets are twice as likely to be killed in crashes as riders who do.

Unfortunately, without a universal helmet requirement, less than 50% of riders choose to wear helmets.

Prior to 2012, Michigan DID require motorcycle riders over the age of 21 to wear a helmet. Since the law was weakened, the average number of deaths in motorcycle crashes in Michigan has increased by nearly 23%.

Motorcycles Must Meet Certain Standards Before They’re Allowed on Roads

Just like cars must pass annual inspections to show whether they are functional and safe to drive, Michigan law also has requirements for motorcycles.

To be considered road-worthy, a motorcycle must have:

  • Front and rear wheel brakes
  • Headlight
  • Taillight
  • Brake light
  • Muffler
  • Horn
  • Rear-view mirror
  • Permanently attached seat

In addition, according to Michigan law, a motorcycle’s handlebars “must be positioned so that there are no more than 15 inches between the lowest point of the (unoccupied) seat to the highest point of the handle grips.”

Engine requirements can also affect whether a motorcycle is allowed on certain types of roadways. If a motorcycle has an engine smaller than 125 cc, it isn’t allowed on freeways or limited access highways.

Michigan Law States Where Motorcycles Can and Can’t Drive

Motorcyclists in Michigan are not allowed to drive on sidewalks, bicycle paths, or on curbs. They can’t ride side-by-side with more than two other motorcyclists on a public road. They also can’t ride between lanes of traffic, a practice sometimes called lane splitting, lane filtering, white lining, or stripe riding.

Other drivers must also acknowledge that motorcycle riders are entitled to a full lane of road, just like any other type of motor vehicle.

Signaling Laws for Michigan Motorcyclists

Like all motorists, motorcycle riders are legally required to signal their intent on Michigan roads. It’s up to every motorcyclist to determine if conditions are safe to turn, change lanes, or come to a complete stop.

Motorcyclists should signal the action they’re about to take at least 100 feet before they turn. They can use either their motorcycle’s electronic signals or their arms and hands. If a motorcycle chooses to use their arms and hands to signal their actions, these are the proper signals:

  • Left arm and hand bent up (forming an L shape) signals a right turn
  • Left arm and hand straight out signals a left turn
  • Left arm and hand bent down signals slowing down or stopping

Our Michigan Motorcycle Accident Attorneys are Ready to Represent You

Motorcycle riders are often biased against after crashes, and police, juries, and other drivers typically assume they caused their own crashes with reckless riding.

We know this usually isn’t the case! Our firm is prepared to stand up for the rights of motorcycle riders after crashes, and help them get the compensation they deserve. Motorcycle crashes typically result in severe, disabling, and even fatal injuries. When riders are injured through no fault of their own, they and their families deserve compensation for the way their injuries will impact their lives physically, emotionally, and financially.

If you or a loved one suffered injuries in a motorcycle crash, contact the Michigan motorcycle accident attorneys at Fieger Law today for a free consultation with one of the top personal injury law firms in the U.S. Our compassionate and dedicated team is ready to help.