The sun is out, and the road is calling.
The climate in Florida makes it especially appealing for motorcycle riders, who hit the roads for special events like Biketoberfest and Daytona Bike Week as well as commuting and fun.
Being a safe rider means making yourself as visible as possible, wearing protective gear, and staying aware of your environment. Knowing and following the Florida motorcycle laws can also keep you safe since they were established to protect riders from road dangers.
These laws lay out how motorcycles should be operated in the state, so let’s take a look at what they are and what you need to know about them.
The entire point of motorcycle gear is to protect you from your head to your toes. After all, motorcyclists are listed as “Vulnerable Road Users” in state crash reports for a reason. Since you aren’t protected by the vehicle at all in an accident, you need to rely on other equipment.
That said, it’s a pretty short list when you start talking about the gear that is actually required or restricted by state law.
Florida helmet law is a little complicated since the answer as to whether they’re required is both yes and no.
You can choose to not wear a helmet while riding your motorcycle as long as you meet these two conditions:
- Over the age of 21
- Have an insurance policy with at least $10,000 in medical benefits to cover you if you’re injured in a motorcycle accident
If you’re under 21, you must wear a helmet at all times on a motorcycle, whether as a driver or passenger.
If you do choose to wear a helmet, it has to conform to federal safety standards, as all helmets sold in the United States must. And you are encouraged to wear one since you have a 37 percent lower chance of being killed and are 69 percent less likely to sustain a head injury if you do wear one.
If you choose not to wear a helmet, you are still required to have some form of eye protection such as goggles. Passengers should also wear them for safety reasons, but they are not required by law to do so.
Riding a motorcycle is a loud affair, so the law does prohibit you from using headphones or other listening devices while riding since they further restrict your ability to hear what’s happening around you. The main exception to this rule is if the device is a hearing aid of some type.
Headsets that are installed in a helmet and either don’t make direct contact with the ears or only provide sound to one ear are allowed as well.
The rules about your motorcycle and its equipment follow many of the same ones as for four-wheeled vehicles. You have to have working brake lights, signals, reflectors, horn, and the like. But there are a few specific laws to be aware of.
You have to use your daylight headlights at all times, no matter how sunny it is. It’s a good safety practice since it increases your visibility to other traffic.
Your bike has to have footrests for the driver and passenger, as well as handlebars. However, those handlebars can’t be ape hangers as they aren’t allowed to extend above shoulder height.
There are also restrictions to keep you from modding your exhaust pipe. You can’t make changes that make it louder than the original equipment, and it has to prevent excessive fumes and smoke.
There are a few motorcycle-specific rules of the road to keep in mind while you’re out enjoying the riding weather.
It is a traffic violation to pop a wheelie while on the road. The law does distinguish between when your wheel leaves the ground by accident as opposed to on purpose and under your control.
You can’t lane split, but motorcycles can ride side by side in one lane. Drivers have to keep both hands on the handlebars at all times.
Since the general rules like speed limits and traffic signals apply to motorcycles just like other vehicles, it is often important to state clearly that motorcycles are not allowed to run red lights. This gets a special mention because many times a bike doesn’t trigger a demand-actuated signal and you can end up sitting at the light for a long time waiting for it to change. This doesn’t create an exception to the law for motorcycles.
You do need more than just a regular driver’s license to operate a motorcycle in Florida. You need what’s called a motorcycle endorsement added to your license or to get a motorcycles-only license.
To get the endorsement, you have to be age 16 or older and provide evidence that you’ve passed a basic rider course. The only exception to the course requirement would be if you already have a motorcycle license from another state other than Alabama.
The license plate on the motorcycle has to be permanently attached and visible from the rear. You can install it horizontally or vertically as long as it can be read easily. If you’re under 21, you’ll have a special design and color for your plate.
There must be a white light added to the rear registration plate that is bright enough to make the tag visible from 50 feet away.
All About Florida Motorcycle Laws
Knowing the rules of the road and the specific Florida motorcycle laws is just one step to staying safe while on your daily commute or taking a road trip. Gearing up for visibility and heightened awareness are also key tools for any safe rider.
Check out other articles on our site for more safety tips at home and on the road.