Motorcycles provide an affordable and enjoyable means of transportation, but there are several laws that Tennessee residents must be aware of before they hit the open road.
Tennessee's Motorcycle Licensing Requirements
Tennessee's Class M license allows residents age 16 and over to legally operate a motorcycle. To receive a motorcycle license, you must complete a vision screening, written knowledge test, and a road skills test. However, if you currently have a valid Tennessee driver's license and can provide a certificate of completion from a Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP), you will be excused from taking both the motorcycle knowledge and road skills tests. If you don't already have a valid driver's license, you must first complete the tests for a Class D license based on the Tennessee Driver Study Guide.
Proof of citizenship or legal U.S. residency, identity, and Tennessee residency are required of all applicants, as well as a Social Security number or a sworn affidavit stating that no number has been issued. Applicants under age 18 must also provide proof of school attendance and a minor/teenage affidavit signed by a parent, guardian, or authorized grandparent.
Tennessee is one of several states with what's referred to as a universal helmet law. Riders and passengers are required to wear an approved helmet regardless of age or experience.
If you fail to wear an appropriate helmet, you could be held partially at fault for your injuries in the event of an accident. This would reduce your compensation by your percentage of fault—potentially leaving you with thousands of dollars in uncovered medical expenses as well as lost income, if you survive the crash.
Other Safety Requirements
Other noteworthy requirements for motorcyclists include:
- A roadworthy motorcycle is required to have headlights, tail lights, brake lights, front and rear brakes, turn signals, two mirrors, and a horn.
- If your bike doesn't have a windshield, you must wear a face shield, goggles, or safety glasses with impact-resistant lenses.
- Passengers can only ride on motorcycle that has a separate passenger seat installed and securely attached footrests.
Motorcycle Insurance Requirements
You must have a valid insurance policy for your motorcycle, just as you are required to have auto insurance before hitting the road. Tennessee’s minimum requirements are:
- $25,000 bodily injury coverage per person
- $50,000 bodily injury coverage per incident
- $15,000 property damage coverage per incident
Opting for coverage that is higher than the minimum the state requires is often recommended. Motorcycle accidents tend to involve very serious injuries. Without protection for your assets, an accident could be devastating. The following additional types of coverage are also available:
- Collison and compensation coverage helps cover repair costs if you're at fault for the accident or if your bike is vandalized, struck by fallen debris, or otherwise damaged in a non-collision accident.
- Uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage helps protect you if you're in an accident caused by someone with no insurance or insufficient insurance.
- Medical payments coverage is designed to supplement your existing health insurance in the event of an accident or to provide coverage for any passenger on your bike.
- Enhanced injury protection is an add-on to medical payments coverage that provides income replacement if you're unable to work after an accident.
In addition to eliminating the need to complete the written knowledge test and road skills test required for licensure, completing an approved motorcycle safety course will also result in increased eligibility for insurance discounts. This will make it easier to provide the financial protection you need without creating an unnecessary strain on your monthly budget.
Protecting Yourself After an Accident
Negotiating a fair settlement after an accident can be time-consuming and complex. Insurance companies often delay paying claims in an attempt to protect their bottom line. Having someone to advocate for your needs is the best way to ensure that your rights are protected.
If you or someone you love has been injured in a motorcycle accident caused by another driver's negligence, please call Griffith Law for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our Franklin law firm is committed to helping motorcycle riders receive fair and timely compensation for their injuries.