Arkansas Motorcycle Laws
Arkansas is home to more than 76,000 bikers. Bikers here enjoy beautiful winding scenic rides during a large portion of the year. From the Arkansas Pig Trail to the Melbourne Run, there is no shortage of fun motorcycle rides in the “Natural State.”
As a motorcyclist here in Arkansas, it is important to follow the rules of the road, as well as all applicable motorcycle laws. Motorcycle laws can prevent you from suffering serious injury and harm if you are involved in an accident.
Understanding and following Arkansas’ motorcycle laws is an important part of staying safe out on the open road. Adhering to the rules and laws of the road can also go a long way when seeking compensation in a potential personal injury lawsuit. Motorcyclists face an uphill battle when collecting damages because they have to overcome many unfair biases. Insurance companies may try to pin some of the blame on the rider or the other drivers may claim the motorcyclist was riding recklessly. Following the rules and laws of the state can help ensure that you are able to get the money you need to move forward in life after a serious motorcycle accident.
Main Motorcycle Laws in Arkansas
The state of Arkansas has passed numerous laws to help protect motorcyclists from harm. These laws ensure that riders have the necessary protections when riding and that other motorists act responsibly when bikers are present. Here are some of the main motorcycle laws in the state of Arkansas.
- Motorcycle helmets are not required for motorcyclists over the age of 21.
- Motorcyclists under the age of 21 are required to wear a helmet.
- Motorcyclists in Arkansas must wear eye protection.
- Daytime headlights are required by all motorcyclists.
- No passengers under the age of eight.
- No more than two people on a motorcycle.
In addition to following these laws, all motorcyclists in Arkansas must also pass a written and road test. This is necessary to obtain an Arkansas motorcycle license. There are two classes of licenses you can obtain in Arkansas: a Class M license and a Class MD license. A Class M license is needed to operate a motorcycle on any Arkansas public road if you are over the age of 16 years and have previously passed all necessary driving tests. A Class MD license is available for any driver between the ages of 14 and 16. These drivers are only allowed to drive motorcycles displacing up to 250cc, and they cannot carry any passengers.
Motorcycle Helmet Law in Arkansas
One of the main motorcycling laws in Arkansas is the helmet law. This law protects motorcyclists from suffering serious and fatal injuries in an accident. In fact, it is often your only form of protection during a crash. But are you required to wear a helmet at all times? What happens if you do not wear a helmet?
Helmet laws help protect motorcyclists from suffering serious injury and harm. However, not all states have universal helmet laws. Arkansas is one of them. In 1997, the state’s mandatory motorcycle helmet law was repealed. Instead, legislators enacted a law that only required motorcyclists and passengers under the age of 21 to wear a helmet. This repeal had significant consequences for motorcyclists.
A 6-year retrospective study found that after the repeal, motorcyclists had significantly more severe head and neck injuries. In addition, they suffered higher medical expenses and more fatalities. The researchers concluded that the repeal of the mandatory helmet law was associated with an increase in the non-helmeted crash scene fatality rate and disproportionately higher hospital admission rates.
After Arkansas repealed their universal helmet law, more riders and passengers were seen on their bikes without a helmet. In states like Arkansas who do not have a universal helmet law, only 60 percent of riders actually wear helmets. In mandatory helmet states, 97 percent of bikers wear helmets while riding.
Why Should You Wear a Helmet?
Even though Arkansas motorcyclists 21 and older are not required to wear a helmet when riding, it is still the safest thing to do. Helmets decrease the chances of suffering a serious and life-threatening injury. In fact, studies have shown that helmets reduce the risk of death by up to 42 percent. Unhelmeted riders are also 3x more likely to suffer serious and fatal traumatic brain injuries than helmeted riders. According to the CDC, one study found that wearing a motorcycle helmet actually reduces your risk of suffering a brain injury by up to 69 percent.
Unfortunately, some bikers believe that wearing a helmet increases their risk of suffering neck injuries. They are also concerned that it will impact their peripheral vision and hearing. However, there are no credible studies that back up these fears and concerns. In fact, more than a dozen studies have actually found the opposite to be true. Wearing a helmet does not restrict your ability to hear horns or traffic noises, nor does it obstruct your view when changing lanes.
Wear DOT-Approved Helmets Only
In order to protect yourself from serious head injuries, it is important to choose a DOT-approved motorcycle helmet. You can choose from full-face helmets, open-face helmets, and half helmets. Full face helmets provide the most coverage and protection. Half helmets provide the least amount of coverage but are better than not wearing a helmet at all.
However, studies have shown that bikers wearing half helmets were twice as likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries than those wearing full-face or open-face helmets.
Wear High Visibility Helmets
Another aspect to consider when choosing a helmet is visibility. While black may seem cool, it is less likely to help you stand out in traffic and on the open road. Consider a colorful helmet that has reflective properties as well. If your motorcycle helmet does not have reflective strips, you can purchase reflective tape to add to it.
Why are color and reflection so important? It can help other drivers see you on the road! A study by BMJ found that riders wearing bright or reflective motorcycle gear had a 37 percent lower risk of a crash. When riders simply wore a white helmet, they had a 24 percent lower risk of getting into a motorcycle accident than riders who wore black helmets.
Motorcycle Laws & Insurance Coverage in Arkansas
Arkansas is The Natural State, known for having some of the best outdoor attractions in the country. People come from around the world to enjoy our breathtaking sights, and some of the best ways to enjoy all we have to offer are by hopping out of the car and exploring. Whether you are riding along The Pig Trail with the wind in your hair, or hiking and biking in one of our 52 state parks, we want to make sure you are protected in our state. That’s why Arkansas passed legislation that specifically provides extra protections for pedestrians, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and yes…even people riding in a horse-drawn carriage or on an animal.
A.C.A § 23-89-202 Required First Party Coverage states “Every automobile liability insurance policy covering any private passenger motor vehicle…shall provide minimum medical and hospital benefits [up to $5,000 and incurred within 24 months], income disability [70% of the loss of income starting 8 days after the wreck, but subject to a maximum of $140 per week], and accidental death benefits [up to $5,000}…to the named insured and members of his or her family residing in the same household injured in a motor vehicle accident, to passengers injured while occupying the insured motor vehicle, and to persons other than those occupying another vehicle struck by the insured motor vehicle, without regard to fault…”. A.C.A § 23-89-204 specifically addresses Coverage for Passengers and Persons Struck by Insured Vehicle, stating “The coverages provided in 23-89-202 shall apply only occupants of the insured vehicle and to persons struck by the insured vehicle, including pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcyclists, persons in a horse-drawn wagon or cart, and persons riding on an animal, and to none other.”
What does this mean for you? In practical terms, it means that as a pedestrian or motorcyclist, if you are hit by a motor vehicle you may be entitled to additional recovery from the at-fault party.
For example: Say you are riding your motorcycle and a car turns in front of you and you collide. If that car carries liability insurance you are entitled to recover from the liability policy for damages which include (among other things) bodily injury, medical charges, lost wages, out-of-pocket expenses, property damage, and pain and suffering. Additionally, under § 23-89-204 you may also be entitled to recover from their first party medical payments coverage or personal injury protection policy. That means you may actually have two open claims against the at-fault driver’s policy.
These laws recognize that people on foot, bike, motorcycle, or carriage are more vulnerable to injury than people protected in a car, and therefore deserve added protections to ensure they have a chance at a fair outcome. Of course, there are some caveats to these laws, which is why it’s important you hire the right firm who will know to look for all of these possibilities. The injury attorneys at Rainwater, Holt & Sexton will investigate ALL coverages you may be entitled to and ensure that you are properly and zealously represented.
Contact A Motorcycle Accident Attorney
With eight offices in Arkansas and Tennessee—Little Rock, Little Rock – Corp Hill, Springdale, Conway, Jacksonville, Hot Springs, Bryant, and Memphis—our Arkansas and Tennessee motorcycle accident lawyers are easily accessible from the moment you need us. Contact Rainwater, Holt & Sexton Injury Lawyers today.