Virginia Traffic Laws for Motorcycle Riders

Generally speaking, the same traffic rules apply to motorcycles as apply to cars. A motorcycle rider cannot speed; they have to follow the speed limit, and they have to obey street signs and traffic signs. They need to yield the right of way to traffic. If they are in a roundabout, they need to make sure that they yield to the traffic in the circle.

In addition to having the same rules and same responsibilities, motorcycles also have the same rights as other vehicles on the road. One thing that a lot of motorcyclists have a problem with, especially in northern Virginia, is using signals when they change lanes. It is shocking how few people use blinkers to change lanes. That is something that is very easy to do and can prevent a lot of serious accidents.

While the laws for motorcycle riders are mostly the same as for other drivers, there are a few unique aspects, and it is important for an individual to consult with a Virginia lawyer with motorcycle case experience, if they are facing motorcycle traffic violations.

Unique Aspects of Virginia Motorcycle Laws

The first difference between motorcycle and car traffic laws is sharing lanes with other riders. If someone is sharing a lane with another motorcycle, there should not be more than two people side by side in the lane. Cars obviously do not have that issue. The motorcyclists cannot be three across; they need to make sure that they leave proper distance for them to be seen. They need to make sure that they are visible on the road, especially if there is a tractor trailer on the road which has a large blind spot. They need to be very cognizant of what the traffic conditions are around them, make sure that they are visible and make sure that they are riding safely and defensively.

In addition to sharing the same lane, another thing a motorcycle rider needs that a car driver does not, is a motorcycle helmet. A motorcyclist needs to wear a helmet that’s DOT-certified. It is for their safety, but it is law. In addition, there may be local ordinances in effect, prohibiting things like popping a wheelie on a motorcycle. Many unsafe driving behaviors are criminalized as reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Any motorcycle rider in Virginia needs to be familiar with the local laws that govern riding a motorcycle.

Reasons to Follow Traffic Laws

Public safety is the most important reason for following traffic laws. The public safety laws are there to prevent accidents and injuries. Some of the other laws that may not seem like they are directly related to safety actually are. For example, if people are riding three across in a lane on motorcycles, that increases the likelihood of an accident.

There is a reason for those laws and it is important for an individual to follow the laws not only for their own safety, but also to make sure that if they are injured that they are not barred from recovery by their failure to follow the laws. If someone is going 95 miles an hour and the speed limit is 65, then a judge or a jury would likely find them to be contributorily negligent. Even if the other cars should not have pulled out in front of the rider, if the individual was driving that fast and they find that that contributed to the cause of the accident, they would be barred completely from any recovery.

Impact of Following Laws on a Case

If an individual fails to signal and then they turn from the wrong lane and cause an accident, failing to follow the law as far as making a proper turn can bar their recovery. Same goes with failing to stop at a stop sign or a traffic light. If someone failed to follow the law and the defense can prove that, then that failure actually contributed to the accident and they are likely to be barred from recovery.

That is a strict doctrine. Contributory negligence applies in Virginia, Maryland, and DC as well as a couple of other jurisdictions in the United States. There are only about five jurisdictions that apply that doctrine. The trend has been away from contributory negligence, but it is still used in Virginia and it will continue to be so.

Motor Scooter and Vespa Laws

Motor scooters must adhere to the same laws apply that would apply for any other vehicle on the road. They have to obey speed limits, stop signs, and traffic signs. Just because it’s a smaller vehicle and it’s not capable of traveling at as high of a speed as other vehicles doesn’t exempt them from following the law.

How Is This Different From Motorcycles?

The biggest way that Vespas are different from motorcycles is in the power of the bike and the speed that they can travel. Some motorcycles can travel in excess of 100 miles an hour. Vespas can’t go nearly as fast. Different motorcycles, depending on the size of the engine and other factors, are more powerful than others, but Vespas are usually more for transportation around the city. Most people are not going to take the Vespa on the highway. Motorcycles are used on the highway on everyday basis, and some motorcycles are actually made for highway riding.