Motorcycle Laws in North Carolina

man riding his motorcycle

If you ride a motorcycle in North Carolina, it’s crucial to know the state’s motorcycle laws to keep yourself and other road users safe. While all motorists must obey traffic laws and drive carefully, some drivers do not see motorcycles on the road or take proper precautions to avoid collisions with them. If you are injured in a motorcycle crash, knowing the state’s motorcycle laws can help you build a strong case for your compensation.

For over a decade, the team at Kreger Brodish LLP has advocated for the rights of motorcyclists injured by careless drivers. We can help you seek the compensation you deserve for your injuries and other losses after a motorcycle crash that wasn’t your fault. Let our experienced, dedicated attorneys handle every detail of your case, allowing you to concentrate on healing and rebuilding your life.

To learn more about motorcycle laws in NC, contact our office for a free consultation with a motorcycle accident lawyer.

Do You Have to Wear a Motorcycle Helmet in North Carolina?

According to the North Carolina DMV, anyone riding on a motorcycle or moped must wear a helmet. The helmet must comply with Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218. Any helmet that meets this standard will have a sticker that reads “FMVSS No. 218.”

There are several additional requirements for motorcycle helmets, including the following:

  • Inner liner – All motorcycle helmets must have an inner liner of polystyrene foam. The foam must be about one inch thick. Some motorcycle helmets have comfort liners in addition to the inner liner, but you should be able to feel the thick inner liner. Helmets that do not have a liner or have one that is too thin do not meet state requirements.
  • DOT sticker – A motorcycle helmet that meets North Carolina safety requirements will have a sticker that reads “DOT” on the back. Some novelty helmets come with DOT stickers riders can add themselves. But that doesn’t necessarily mean these helmets meet state safety regulations.
  • Manufacturer label – Helmets that comply with state safety requirements should have a manufacturer label inside. The label should include the manufacturer’s name, helmet model, size, date of manufacture, materials used in the helmet’s shell and liner, and instructions for cleaning and maintaining the helmet.

Special Traffic Laws Applied to Motorcycles

A few North Carolina traffic laws apply to motorcycles and others who are on the roads with motorcycle riders. These laws include:

  • Sharing the road – The DMV says all motorcycle riders have the right to a full traffic lane. Drivers of passenger cars and other vehicles need to watch out for motorcyclists and give them plenty of space.
  • Motorcycle passengersState law prohibits motorcycle riders from carrying more passengers than the motorcycle has seats to support. Overloading a motorcycle is extremely dangerous and can cause an accident.
  • Going through red lights – Some sensors at traffic lights have trouble recognizing motorcycles, which can cause the light to stay red for a motorcyclist. If this happens, state law says they can go through the intersection. However, they must come to a complete stop at the light, wait three minutes, make sure no pedestrians are crossing the intersection, and look for any other vehicles approaching that may have the right-of-way.

Is Lane-Splitting Legal in North Carolina?

Lane-splitting is when a motorcyclist rides on the line between two lanes. While lane-splitting is not explicitly illegal in North Carolina, it is strongly discouraged because of how dangerous the practice can be. It is also unlawful to pass other motorists on the right. However, two motorcycle riders can ride side-by-side within a single traffic lane, a practice known as lane sharing.