According to Tennessee law, a motorcycle is defined as “every motor vehicle having a seat or saddle for the use of the rider and designed to travel on not more than three (3) wheels in contact with the gound, including a vehicle that is fully enclosed, has three (3) wheels in contact with the ground, weighs less than one thousand five hundred pounds (1,500 lbs.), and has the capacity to maintain posted highway speed limits, excluding a tractor or motorized bicycle.” Those who wish to operate a motorcycle in the state of Tennessee are required to obtain a motorcycle operator (class M) license. Applicants must be 16 years of age and pass both knowledge and skills test, unless they can show that they have a valid Tennessee driver’s license and have completed a Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program. Motorcyclists can apply for their permit at the age of 15, but any applicants under the age of 18 will need parental consent. All riders must maintain a valid motorcycle insurance policy while operating their vehicle.
Motorcycle License Requirements
- At least 16 years of age
- If under 18, parental consent is required
- Proof of U.S. Citizenship, Lawful Permanent Resident Status, or proof of authorized stay in the United States
- Primary and secondary proof of identity
- Two proofs of Tennessee residency with your name and address, dated within the last four months
- Social Security Number
- Fee of $20.50
- Vision test
- Knowledge test
- Motorcycle skills test
Those holding a valid Tennessee driver’s license who show a certificate of completion from a Tennessee Certified Motorcycle Rider Education Program (MREP) will not be required to take the motorcycle knowledge or skills test to receive their license.
In terms of motorcycle insurance, Tennessee requires all operators to maintain proof of financial responsibility. The state’s mandatory motorcycle insurance requirements are 30/60/25. This means motorcyclists must have $30,000 of bodily injury coverage for injuries or death for a single individual in an accident, $60,000 of bodily injury coverage for injuries or death for multiple individuals in an accident, and $25,000 of coverage for property damage in an accident. In order to comply with state motorcycle insurance laws, riders must carry proof of their coverage at all times while operating the vehicle. Motorcyclists have three options to obtain proof of financial responsibility in Tennessee:
- Buy insurance – Motorcyclists can purchase minimum to full coverage policies from an insurance broker or agent. This typically requires a monthly premium payment.
- Bond – Operators in Tennessee can show proof of financial responsibility by securing a bond issued by a surety company. This typically requires the leverage of cash or real estate as insurance.
- Self-insurance – This option is available for an individual who owns more than 25 vehicles or certain members of recognized religious sects. Eligible individuals must obtain a certificate of self-insurance from the commissioner of safety.
For those researching motorcycle insurance cost, it is important to understand all the factors that can influence your rates. Motorcycle insurance companies will consider factors such as age, gender, marital status, location, type of vehicle, and how far you travel on a regular basis. Young unmarried males typically have the highest insurance rates. In addition, individuals who travel a lot of miles, live in high crime areas, own an expensive vehicle, or have a history of traffic incidents can expect to pay higher than average rates. Motorcyclists should also note that motorcycle insurance prices average more than standard car insurance, due to the increased risk of operating this type of vehicle. Operators who complete a state approved rider training course may be eligible for a discount on their motorcycle insurance premium.
To ensure safe operation of any motor vehicle, it is important to understand and follow all state traffic laws. Motorcycle operators who fail to follow equipment and traffic regulations put themselves at risk for injury, traffic fines, increased insurance rates, and the loss of their operator’s license. Some important laws pertaining to Tennessee motorcyclists are listed below:
- Helmets are required for both operators and passengers under the age of 21.
- Footrests are required for all operators and passengers.
- Protective eyewear or an appropriate windshield are required for all motorcyclists.
- An operator cannot carry another passenger unless the vehicle is designed to carry two riders.
- Operating a motorcycle between lanes is prohibited.
- Riding motorcycles more than two abreast in a single lane is not permitted.