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NYS Vehicle & Traffic Law Excerpts

Motorcycle
Motorcycles, Mopeds & ATVs
Index & Overview

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These excerpts are provided for information only and NOT as the basis for legal or judicial determinations.  ALWAYS verify them against the most recent available copy of the law.  The entire Vehicle and Traffic Law, sorted by section number, is available from the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission. (scroll down to VAT) external link

Contents  

(These sections of the V&T Law are at the New York State Legislative Bill Drafting Commission.)

Article 34-A Operation of Motorcycles
Section 1250 Traffic laws apply to persons operating motorcycle.
Section 1251 Riding on motorcycles.
Section 1252 Operating motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic.
Section 1253 Clinging to other vehicles.
Article 9 Equipment of motor vehicles and motorcycles
Section 381 Motorcycle equipment.
Article 15 Registration of motorcycles
Section 410-a Motorcycle Safety Program

 

§ 1250. Traffic laws apply to persons operating motorcycles. Every person operating a motorcycle shall be granted all of the rights and shall be subject to all of the duties applicable to the driver of any other vehicle under this title, except as to special regulations in this article and except as to those provisions of this title which by their nature can have no application.

§ 1251. Riding on motorcycles. (a) A person operating a motorcycle shall ride only upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto, and such operator shall not carry any other person nor shall any other person ride on a motorcycle unless such motorcycle is designed to carry more than one person, in which event a passenger may ride upon the permanent and regular seat if designed for two persons, or upon another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle at the rear or side of the operator.
(b) A person shall ride upon a motorcycle only while sitting astride the seat, facing forward, with one leg on each side of the motorcycle, unless said person is seated in a sidecar affixed to said motorcycle.
(c) No person shall operate a motorcycle while carrying any package, bundle or other article which prevents him from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
(d) No operator shall carry any person, nor shall any person ride, in a position that will interfere with the operation or control of the motorcycle or the view of the operator.

§ 1252. Operating motorcycles on roadways laned for traffic. (a) All motorcycles are entitled to full use of a lane and no motor vehicle or motorcycle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any motorcycle of the full use of a lane. However, this subsection shall not be construed to prevent motorcycles from being operated two abreast in a single lane.
(b) The operator of a motorcycle shall not overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken.
(c) No person shall operate a motorcycle between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
(d) Motorcycles shall not be operated more than two abreast in a single lane.
(e) Subsections (b) and (c) shall not apply to police officers in the performance of their official duties.

§ 1253. Clinging to other vehicles. No person riding upon a motorcycle shall attach himself or the motorcycle to any other vehicle or streetcar on a roadway.

§ 381. Motorcycle equipment. 1. (a) Every motorcycle, driven upon the public highways of this state, shall be provided with adequate brakes in good working order and sufficient to control such motorcycle at all times, when the same is in use, a suitable and adequate bell, horn or other device for signaling, one red to amber stop lamp and shall, whenever such motorcycle is being operated upon the public highways of the state, display one lighted lamp in front and one on the rear, or, when such motorcycle is operated with a passenger or other truck attached to the side or front two such lamps on the front and one on the rear; and in all cases the lamps on a motorcycle shall include a red light visible from the rear. The rays of such rear lamp shall shine upon the number plate carried on the rear of such motorcycle in such manner as to render the numerals thereon visible for at least fifty feet in the direction from which the motorcycle is proceeding. The light of the front lamp or lamps shall be visible at least two hundred feet in the direction in which the motorcycle is proceeding. Every such motorcycle shall have a suitable muffler or device to prevent unnecessary noise from exhaust gases, and the use of so-called "cut-outs" is prohibited.
(b) Driving a motorcycle without the display of one lighted lamp in front and one on the rear, during a period other than from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise, shall not be deemed to constitute negligence or contributory negligence in any action or proceeding arising out of the operation of such motorcycle.
(c) The provisions of this subdivision relating to the display of one lighted lamp in front and one on the rear during a period other than from one-half hour after sunset to one-half hour before sunrise shall not apply to a motorcycle, driven at a speed of less than twenty miles per hour, owned by a municipality and used for the collection of parking fees or the enforcement of parking regulations.
1-a. Every motorcycle registered in this state and manufactured or assembled after January first, nineteen hundred seventy-one and designated as a nineteen hundred seventy-one or subsequent year model shall be equipped with brakes acting on the front as well as the rear wheel.
2. No head lamp shall be used upon any motorcycle operated upon the public highways of the state, unless such lamp is approved by the commissioner or is equipped with a lens or other device approved by the commissioner. Every such head lamp, lens or other device shall be applied and adjusted in accordance with the requirements of the certificate approving the use thereof. Every such head lamp shall be firmly and substantially mounted on the motorcycle in such manner as to allow the lamp to be properly and readily adjusted. Each reflector which is used as a part of such head lamp shall have a polished silver or glass reflecting surface, or a reflecting surface which gives candle power intensity meeting the requirements of rules and regulations established by the commissioner, and shall be substantially free from dents, rust and other imperfections. The operator of every motorcycle shall permit any policeman, police officer or other person exercising police powers to inspect the equipment of such motorcycle and make such tests as may be necessary to determine whether the provisions of this section are being complied with. The commissioner may make reasonable rules and regulations relative to lights on motorcycles and the approval of the same which may be necessary to effectuate the foregoing provisions of this section.
2-a. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate on the public highways of the state any motorcycle manufactured or assembled after October first, nineteen hundred sixty-eight and designated as a nineteen hundred sixty-nine or subsequent year model unless such motorcycle is equipped with the lamps required by this section, which lamps shall be of a type, design and construction approved by the commissioner.
3. Except as hereinafter provided, only a white or yellow light shall be displayed upon a motorcycle so as to be visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle. Any color light, except blue, may be displayed, so as to be visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle, on a police vehicle or on a motorcycle operated by a sheriff or regular deputy sheriff when engaged in the performance of duty as a police officer. Any color light, including blue, may be displayed, so as to be visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle, on a motorcycle operated by a chief or assistant chief of a fire department, a county or deputy county fire coordinator, or a county or assistant county fire marshal. A blue light may be displayed upon a motorcycle, so as to be visible from a point directly in front of the vehicle, when operated by an active volunteer member of a fire department or company duly authorized as hereinafter provided, and while such vehicle is in use for fire or other emergency service. No volunteer fireman shall be permitted to display a blue light upon a motorcycle as hereinbefore provided except while actually enroute to the scene of a fire or other emergency requiring his services and unless he shall be an active volunteer member of a fire department or company and shall have been authorized in writing to so display a blue light by the chief of the fire department or company of which he is a member, which authorization shall be subject to revocation at any time by the chief who issued the same, or his successor in office.
4. Every motorcycle shall have at least one adequate red reflector securely attached to the rear. Such reflector may be a part of the rear lamp. No reflector shall be deemed adequate within the meaning of this subdivision unless it is of a size and type approved by the commissioner, and unless it is so designed, located and maintained as to be visible for at least two hundred feet when opposed by a motor vehicle displaying lawful undimmed headlights at night on an unlighted highway. The provisions of this subdivision with respect to reflectors shall be applicable, both day and night, whenever the motorcycle is on a public highway.
5. No person shall operate on a public highway a motorcycle on which the handle bars or grips are more than the height of the operator's shoulders.
6. It shall be unlawful for any person to operate or ride upon a motorcycle unless he wears a protective helmet of a type which meets the requirements set forth in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended. The commissioner is hereby authorized and directed to adopt regulations for helmets which are consistent with the requirements as specified in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended. The police authorities of a city, town or village may issue a permit exempting members of organizations sponsoring or conducting parades or other public exhibitions from the provisions of this subdivision while such members are participating in such parades or other public exhibitions.
7. It shall be unlawful, on and after January first, nineteen hundred sixty-seven, for any person to operate a motorcycle unless he wears goggles or a face shield of a type approved by the commissioner. The commissioner is hereby authorized and empowered to adopt and amend regulations covering types of goggles and face shields and the specifications therefor and to establish and maintain a list of approved goggles and face shields which meet the specifications as established hereunder.
8. It shall be unlawful to operate on any public highway in this state any motorcycle registered in this state which is equipped with a wind screen, unless such wind screen meets the specifications established therefor by the commissioner. The commissioner is hereby authorized to adopt and amend regulations covering types of wind screens and specifications therefor.
9. It shall be unlawful to sell, offer for sale or distribute any goggles or face shields for use by the operators of motorcycles unless they are of a type and specification approved by the commissioner and appear on the list of approved devices maintained by the commissioner.
9-a. It shall be unlawful to sell, offer for sale or distribute any protective helmets for use by the operators or passengers of motorcycles unless they are consistent with the regulations of the commissioner as provided in subdivision six of this section and within the requirements specified in section 571.218 of the federal motor vehicle safety standards as may from time to time be amended.
10. It shall be unlawful after July first, nineteen hundred sixty-seven to operate on any public highway in this state any motorcycle registered in this state, unless such motorcycle is equipped with a rear view mirror which shall be adjusted so that the operator of such motorcycle shall have a clear view of the road and condition of traffic behind such motorcycle.
11. No person shall operate a motorcycle on any highway which is: (1) not equipped with a muffler to prevent excessive or unusual noise; (2) equipped with a muffler from which the baffle plates, screens or other original internal parts have been removed or altered; (3) equipped with an exhaust device without internal baffles, known as "straight pipes"; or (4) equipped with an exhaust system that has been modified in a manner that will amplify or increase the noise emitted by the motor of such vehicle above that emitted by the exhaust system originally installed on the vehicle.
12. No person shall operate a motorcycle on any highway which is equipped with an exhaust device that is intentionally designed to allow for the internal baffling to be fully or partially removed or interchangeable. This subdivision shall not apply to a motorcycle manufactured or assembled prior to nineteen hundred seventy-nine or a motorcycle registered as a limited use vehicle or an all terrain vehicle pursuant to article forty-eight-A or forty-eight-B of this chapter.
13. A violation of any of the provisions of this section shall be punishable by a fine not exceeding one hundred dollars or by imprisonment for not exceeding thirty days, or by both such fine and imprisonment.

§ 410-a. Motorcycle safety program. 1. The commissioner shall establish and administer a motorcycle safety program which shall consist of approved motorcycle rider training courses, motorcycle course instructor training, program promotion, and public awareness. Approved rider training courses shall meet nationally recognized standards for motorcycle rider training courses, or standards for motorcycle rider safety programs which are approved by the department and are comparable to the standards of the motorcycle safety foundation's motorcycle rider safety program. Approved courses shall include at least eight hours of instruction in the actual operation of a motorcycle. Monies from the motorcycle safety fund established pursuant to section ninety-two-g of the state finance law shall be used for the establishment and implementation of this program.
2. The commissioner shall issue a request for proposals for the coordination of a motorcycle safety program which shall set requirements for the preparation of bids. The commissioner shall enter into a contract, for a period of five years, with a motorcycle rider training coordinating organization selected pursuant to such process. The contract shall be awarded following the consideration of factors which shall include, but not be limited to, the most favorable financial advantage for the state, the greatest utility to the motorcyclist, the comprehensiveness and effectiveness of such organization and its compatibility with the existing rider education programs. The motorcycle rider training coordination organization shall be subject to periodic reporting requirements established by the department outlining the administration and effectiveness of its program and an itemization of all motorcycle safety fund allocations. Such motorcycle rider training coordinating organization shall have at least three years experience in the administration of a statewide motorcycle rider education program, and have as its administrator an individual who has no financial or proprietary interest in a motorcycle training school or facility.
3. The motorcycle rider training coordinating organization shall submit to the commissioner for approval requests for advances pursuant to a contract and reimbursements from the motorcycle safety fund for equipment, operating and administrative costs and other expenses necessary to carry out the provisions of this section. The commissioner shall approve all such requests for expenditures that are in accordance with the provisions of this section.
4. The commissioner shall annually file a report on expenditures from the motorcycle safety fund, established pursuant to section ninety-two-g of the state finance law, with the legislature. Such report shall include the name of the funded motorcycle rider training coordinating organization and the amount of funds distributed to it and shall provide an evaluation of the overall effectiveness of the funded programs and any recommendations for programmatic changes.

Motorcycles, Mopeds & ATVs Program Overview