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Safety and Louisiana Motorcycle Laws

Motorcycles account for only about 3 percent of all registered vehicles in the United States. However, motorcycle riders are involved in around 15 percent of traffic-related fatalities. And recent studies show that motorcyclists are 26 times more likely to be involved in a fatal accident than passenger vehicle drivers.

These numbers are scary statistics for bike riders. Indeed, Louisiana news outlets frequently report on lives lost in tragic motorcycle accidents.

Thankfully, the Louisiana motorcycle laws are designed to keep bike riders safe. If you’re planning to buy a motorcycle or you’ve already bought one, it’s essential to understand the Louisiana motorcycle laws before hitting the open road. You must obey these laws, as they are designed to mitigate the risk of injuries and save lives.

Below we share everything you need to know to legally and safely ride a motorcycle in Louisiana.

Motorcycle licensing and inspection

You’re required to get a motorcycle endorsement from the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles before you take to the road. The motorcycle endorsement is added to the primary driver’s license after you’ve passed a motorcycle knowledge exam and an on-cycle skills test.
For a newly purchased motorcycle, make sure it is inspected within 40 days. After inspection, you’ll be given an inspection sticker. You’ll need to pay the applicable taxes before registering your bike.

Louisiana motorcycle helmet laws

Both bike operators and passengers must wear proper helmets anytime the motorbike is moving. Under LA R.S. 32:190, the approved protective gear is defined as containing:

1) Adequate padding for weakening force of head collisions

2) Lining to make the helmet feel comfortable around the head

3) A visor for protecting the eyes

4) A chin strap for firmly securing the helmet to the head

A helmet is a live saver. Studies show that wearing this protective gear can reduce the risk of head injuries by almost 70 percent and fatality by nearly 42 percent.

Eye protection laws

Bike riders don’t have to get involved in a collision to injure their eyes. If hard particles get in the eye while you’re moving at high speed, they could do some severe eye damage. Light debris, on the other hand, can impede your vision and ultimately get into an accident.

The LA R.S. 32:190.1 law requires wearing protective eye gear if you don’t have a windshield that’s high enough, conforming to the Department of Public Safety and Corrections’ specifications detailed by the deputy secretary. It is illegal to use tinted eyewear if you’re riding a motorcycle at night.

Traffic lane Laws

Under LA R.S. 32:191.1, motorcycle operators have the right to full use of traffic lanes, unless the bike is operated two abreast in a single lane. It’s an offense for a vehicle diver to act in a way that deprives you of the full space.

It is also illegal for a motorbike rider to:

1) Overtake a vehicle and pass in the same lane the vehicle is occupying, unless you’re a police officer performing his or her official duties

2) Operate the bike between traffic lanes and between rows of motor vehicles

3) Ride with more than two motorcycle side by side in one lane

Footrest and handlebar laws

The LA R.S. 32:191.3 provisions dictate that a motorcycle carrying a passenger to have a footrest for the passenger. Additionally, you must ensure the height of the handlebars falls below or at level with your shoulders when seated on the bike. Otherwise, controlling the bike will be difficult.

If you’re carrying something that’s preventing you from having both hands on the handlebars, don’t ride on a Louisiana road. You’ll surely get in trouble with the local authorities.

Riding with children

Maybe you need some time out with your child and orient them to the beautiful scenery in Louisiana. Unfortunately, LA R.S. 32:191(E) prohibits riding with children who must be secured in a child safety seat, whether it’s rear or forward-facing. You can only ride with a child who is at least five years old and fits properly in the passenger seat. The kid should also wear a helmet.

Seating requirements

According to the provisions of L.A. R.S. 32:191, your motorcycle should have a permanent and a regular seat (if designed for two people). It can be a single seat with a seating capacity of two. And, passengers can only ride on bikes designed to accommodate passengers.

When riding on a motorcycle, you must have one leg on each side of the bike and face forward.

Injured in a motorcycle accident despite obeying the laws?

While you can follow these Louisiana motorcycle laws to the letter, accidents can occur, primarily when other drivers act negligently. If you’re injured in an accident because someone chose to ignore the safety traffic rules, you have the right to sue them for the damage they caused. 

Contact The Mahone Firm at (504) 564-7342 to request a free case evaluation by a trusted New Orleans motorcycle accident lawyer today.


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Mike Mahone

Mike Mahone is a personal injury and business litigation lawyer located in New Orleans, LA, and the sole practitioner of The Mahone Firm.

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