Understanding Tennessee's motorcycle equipment requirements can help prevent injuries if you are involved in an accident. The state has several laws regarding required motorcycle equipment, in addition to various safety recommendations.
Basic Safety Requirements
In order for a motorcycle to be considered street legal, it must meet some basic Tennessee safety standards. You are required to have:
- Headlights, taillights, and brake lights
- Front and rear brakes
- Turn signals
- Two mirrors
You're not allowed to carry a passenger on your motorcycle unless a proper seat for the passenger has been installed. You are also required to have securely attached footrests for both the operator and passenger.
- You can't ride over 35 mph unless you have a headlamp able to maintain visibility 300 feet ahead.
- If you don't have a windshield, the operator and any passenger must wear face shields, safety goggles, or glasses containing impact-resistant lenses.
- You should always perform a pre-trip inspection before riding your motorcycle to make sure your safety equipment is in working order. The inspection order can be remembered by the acronym T-CLOCS: tires and wheels, lights and electrics, oils and other fluids, chassis, and stands.
Tennessee’s Motorcycle Helmet Law
Tennessee law requires anyone riding a motorcycle, whether as an operator or passenger, to have a helmet. Age or riding experience is irrelevant. However, exceptions are made for riders age 21 and older riding a motorcycle in a parade, funeral procession, or memorial ride.
A proper helmet should:
- Meet U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and state standards
- Have an additional label from the Snell Memorial Foundation for added quality assurance
- Be free of cracks, loose padding, frayed straps, and other obvious defects
- Fit snugly and securely around your head
Violation of the state's helmet law is considered a Class C misdemeanor. This is punishable by a $50 fine, a maximum of 30 days in jail, or both.
If you're involved in a motorcycle accident and not wearing a helmet, you may be found to have contributed to your injuries by failing to follow required safety precautions. This can reduce or even eliminate your ability to collect damages, since Tennessee does not allow those who are found 50% or more at fault for an accident to benefit from a personal injury claim.
Recommendations for Appropriate Clothing
While not legally required, Tennessee recommends that riders and passengers dress with safety in mind. Proper clothing protects you from heat, cold, wind, rain, and debris. It also makes you more visible to other motorists and provides you with added protection in the event of an accident.
Recommended clothing for riding a motorcycle includes:
- Snug-fitting jacket and pants made of leather or a sturdy synthetic material
- High, sturdy boots that cover the ankles and have slip-resistant soles
- Leather or sturdy synthetic gloves with a good grip
- Hearing protection to reduce the damaging effects of regular exposure to engine and wind noises
Bike size is an often overlooked consideration when it comes to safely operating a motorcycle. Ideally, your feet should be able to touch the ground while you're seated and you should be able to easily reach the controls. In most cases, smaller motorcycles are also easier for beginners to safely operate.
Receiving Compensation Following a Motorcycle Accident
If you are injured in a motorcycle accident, you may be entitled to compensation from the at-fault driver, the manufacturer of any defective motorcycle equipment that caused the accident, or the mechanic who incorrectly performed the necessary safety repairs. Compensation can include payment for medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering.
Retaining the services of a skilled personal injury attorney is the best way to ensure your legal rights are protected when seeking reimbursement for your injuries. Insurance companies often delay paying claims or try to offer inappropriately low settlements, so it's vital that you have someone to advocate on your behalf.
Griffith Law has extensive experience helping motorcycle riders receive compensation for their injuries. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, please call our Franklin law firm at 615-807-7900.