What Are the Oregon Motorcycle Laws Every Rider Should Know?

Obeying traffic and motorcycle laws in Oregon can help you stay out of legal trouble – and potentially avoid a vehicle accident. Following the rules can make your actions more predictable to surrounding drivers. This can help you prevent collisions related to lack of visibility, lane changes, and turns. Whether this is your first time riding or you are a seasoned motorcyclist, knowing state laws is important.

Man on Motorcycle

Motorcycle Helmet Requirements

Oregon is one of many states that have passed universal helmet laws for motorcyclists. Motorcycle riders and their passengers must wear approved helmets at all times. Approved helmets have stickers from the Snell Memorial Foundation or the Department of Transportation. It is an offense not to wear a helmet as a rider or passenger. Oregon Revised Statutes Section 814.280 places liability on an operator if a passenger does not wear a helmet. You could receive a ticket for carrying a passenger without a helmet.

If you get into a motorcycle accident without a helmet on, you could face financial consequences. Even if you did not cause the crash, the defendant could argue that your failure to wear a helmet contributed to your injuries – especially if you or your un-helmeted passenger suffered injuries to the face, head, or brain. The courts might assign you at least a percentage of fault for your injuries, which according to Oregon’s modified comparative negligence law could reduce your compensation award. If not wearing a helmet means you were more than 50% at fault, you will not recover at all.

License and Registration Rules

You have to carry a special Class M license to operate a motorcycle in Oregon, or a motorcycle instruction permit and driver’s license. You need to pass specific written and driving tests to obtain a motorcycle permit. You will also need to register your motorcycle and clearly display a license plate on the rear of the vehicle. It is mandatory to purchase auto insurance to operate a motorcycle in Oregon. Carry proof of insurance while riding. If operating with a motorcycle permit, the rider must have supervision from an endorsed rider who is 21 or older. Riding without an endorsement can lead to a penalty of $720.

Proper Operating Equipment

It is against the law to operate a motorcycle that does not have all the required equipment. A motorcycle must have a white front light that the rider keeps illuminated at all times. This can be a headlight or daytime running light. They also need at least one rear red taillight and red stop lamp, along with one red reflector on the rear and a white license plate light. All motorcycles must have at least one rear-view mirror and a working horn.

If the motorcycle is model year 1973 or older, it does not need turn signal lights. Newer motorcycles, however, must have working turn signals. All wheels should have fenders. The exhaust system should be in good working order and keep noise levels below the Department of Environmental Quality standards. It is the motorcyclist’s duty to inspect and maintain the vehicle, and to make sure it is in good roadway condition.

Traffic Laws

Motorcyclists must obey all applicable road and traffic laws, as if they were driving regular motor vehicles. Motorcyclists cannot share lanes with motor vehicles or ride between lanes (lane split). They can ride two abreast with another motorcycle, however. Motorcyclists have to follow all traffic signs, signals, and stoplights. They must yield the right-of-way to drivers, bicyclists, and pedestrians when applicable. They must obey all speed limits and come to complete stops before making turns. Breaking any of the state’s traffic laws could result in liability for a resultant accident. Speak to a Portland personal injury attorney if you get into an accident as a motorcyclist in Oregon.