Arkansas boasts breathtaking scenic views and wide-open roads. It’s no wonder motorcyclists flock to the state for joy rides. Annual biking events like Bikes, Blues, and BBQ in Rogers help attract more steel horse riders to the state. But with so many motorcycles on the road, the risk of devastating accidents increases.
Bikers headed for the Natural State should be aware of the motorcycle laws in Arkansas to keep safe and avoid liability in a traffic accident.
Motorcycle Helmet Safety in Arkansas
Many people may be surprised that not every state mandates safety headgear for everyone. Arkansas is one of those states. People 20 years and younger must wear a helmet, but helmets are not legally required for adults ages 21 and older. The state repealed its mandatory helmet law in 1997.
Here’s what that means for you if you’re a motorcycle rider: you won’t be violating the law if you choose not to wear one, but you will be putting yourself at significant risk.
It’s always recommended to wear a helmet when riding. They reduce the chances of experiencing serious or fatal head injuries. Motorcyclists who do not wear helmets are three times more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries than those who wear them, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS). In a situation where you can choose safety, you should.
Not Wearing a Helmet Could Affect Your Compensation in a Motorcycle Accident Claim
Another thing to keep in mind is that even if it isn’t illegal to ride without a helmet, should you get into an accident and suffer head or brain injuries, you may share in the fault. Shared fault in Arkansas means your compensation could be reduced or you may receive nothing at all, if you are 50% or more at-fault, per §16-64-122 of Arkansas code.
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Arkansas Motorcycle Safety Laws to Keep in Mind
While helmets are the most talked about safety gear for motorcycles, there are other key pieces of equipment you must use when riding a motorcycle in Arkansas. The law, per § 27-20-104, dictates that each motorcycle rider must have:
- Protective glasses, goggles, or transparent face shield
- Between 1- 2 headlights that emit white light up to 500 feet
- A red reflector at the rear which is visible from 300 feet behind
- A red light in the rear visible from 500 feet away
- Properly working hand or foot brakes
- A horn that works well (no sirens, bells, or whistles)
- Handholds and foot supports for passengers on bikes designed for 2 people
- Standard muffler
Arkansas Code also outlines specific riding instructions about who can ride a motorcycle, how they must ride, and how many people. The laws are listed below:
- A motorcycle must have 2 seats or a sidecar if you are to carry 2 people
- Passengers must be at least 8 years old
- Drivers under the age of 16 are not allowed to carry passengers
- More than 2 people cannot ride on a single motorcycle
- You cannot ride a motorcycle other than by sitting on an attached seat.
Obtaining a Motorcycle License in Arkansas
If you want to ride a motorcycle in Arkansas, you must obtain a Class M license. The class M license is non-restricted, and an applicant can be as young as 16 years old. You may find this hard to believe, but that’s not even the minimum age for driving a motorcycle.
Drivers as young as 14 can ride a motorcycle in Arkansas with a Class MD license. This is a restricted license for 14–16-year-olds which allows them to drive small-displacement motorcycles (bikes with less power).
To receive a motorcycle license, you must pass four exams:
- Driver’s knowledge exam
- Motorcycle knowledge exam
- Motorcycle skills exam
- Vision test
Motorcycle Accidents and Prevention
Motorists and motorcyclists alike must be careful when sharing the road. About one-third of motorcycle accidents involve another vehicle. Some of the common reasons for this are:
- Drivers may look quickly and fail to see the motorcycle.
- The smaller size of a motorcycle makes it harder to see one approaching in the distance.
- Judging the speed and distance of a motorcycle can be challenging.
- Motorcycles often change lanes to adjust to road conditions.
The Chances of a Motorcycle Accident are Increased by Various Factors
Motorcycles are more vulnerable to traffic collisions than other vehicles. The small size, two wheels, and lack of outer protection leave their riders at risk. Some of the common situations in which motorcycle wrecks happen are detailed below.
As many as 40% of motorcycle accidents happen at intersections. Of those, 60% are due to cars making a left turn in front of a motorcycle.
Blind Spots and Changing Lanes
Motorcycles can be hidden in a vehicle’s blind spot. On top of that, they often change lanes, making them even harder to see or keep track of.
Dangerous Conditions on the Road
Motorcycle riders shift their speeds and position in response to weather or physical road conditions such as potholes, gravel, or slippery surfaces. These road conditions make it hard to handle a motorcycle and impair their ability to brake.
Gusts of Wind
Due to size and shape, motorcycles are prone to being blown around by strong winds.
Large trucks, vans, and buses can block the view of a motorcycle, making it appear as though the bike is coming out of nowhere when a car driver sees it.
Car drivers and motorcycle riders should aim to be hyper-aware on the road. Intersections, lack of visibility, hazardous environmental factors, and speed increase the chances of an accident.
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Know the Law, Know Your Rights, and Get Compensation with Morris Bart, LLC
Knowing the motorcycle laws in Arkansas and exercising caution can save lives. If you’ve been injured in a car accident or a motorcycle accident in Arkansas, a personal injury lawyer at the Morris Bart Law firm can help. We’ll make sure you understand the law, your rights, and your options for seeking compensation. Reach us today.
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