The Washington State Legislature defines a motorcycle as a motor vehicle designed to have no more than three wheels touching the ground and on which the driver sits on a seat or saddle and steers using a handlebar. A motorcycle could also be defined as a motor vehicle in which the driver rides on a seat in a partially enclosed seating area that has safety belts with the vehicle being controlled with a steering wheel. The state does not recognize farm tractors, mopeds, electric-assisted bicycles, power wheelchairs, electric personal assistive mobility devices, or motorized foot scooters as “motorcycles.” To drive a motorcycle, you need a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license. Drivers must be at least 16 years old and possess a Washington driver’s license to learn how to ride a motorcycle. If under 18, you must have parental consent.
Motorcycle License Requirements
- Washington driver’s license
- Pass approved rider course at approved motorcycle training school (knowledge and riding test will be waived; course required if under 18)
- Motorcycle knowledge test (if you haven’t completed rider course)
- Motorcycle riding test (if you haven’t completed rider course)
- Parental consent (if under 18)
While many states enforce mandatory motorcycle insurance requirements, Washington law currently exempts motorcycles, motor-driven cycles, and mopeds from the requirement to purchase liability insurance or prove other financial responsibility. However, this does not mean drivers do not purchase motorcycle insurance in Washington state. Many times, when a driver takes out a loan on a motorcycle, the lender will require the driver to buy insurance. In addition, neighboring states and provinces like Oregon, Idaho, and British Columbia require motorcyclists to have liability insurance, so drivers going outside of Washington state lines would be wise to purchase it as well, according to Northwest Cable News. Finally, because of the peace of mind that comes with purchasing motorcycle insurance, Washington residents often voluntarily purchase it to protect their investment in their bikes.
In Washington, motorcycle insurance companies look at age, gender, marital status, type of vehicle, and where you live to determine how much to charge for auto insurance. Men and unmarried couples are considered riskier to insure than women and married couples. Where you live also comes into play, as insurance companies take into account population density as well as crime rates and driving conditions in your area when assessing risk. Also, the more driving you do in an average week or year, the higher your premium will be. Expensive cars and motorcycles also generally cost more to insure. In addition, insurance companies look at a person’s driving history and claims history. If you have numerous accidents and traffic tickets, you will generally have a higher motorcycle insurance cost. Too many accidents may interfere with your ability to get insurance. To get the best deal, it’s important to compare rate quotes for your motorcycle insurance premium. By comparing quotes, you can determine the Washington motorcycle insurance average cost, and know if you are being overcharged.
Whether you’re driving a motorcycle or any other type of vehicle, you must follow all state laws and rules of the road. If you fail to follow these laws, it can cost you time, money, and even your driving privileges, not to mention cause your motorcycle insurance premium to go up. Below are the motorcycle-specific laws for Washington.
- Motorcycles can’t travel between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles.
- When driving in groups, motorcyclists can’t drive more than two abreast in a lane of traffic (see link above).
- Motorcyclists cannot overtake and pass in the same lane occupied by the vehicle being overtaken (see link above).
- A motorcycle driver must have appropriate seating and/or additional foot pegs if he or she is carrying a passenger.
- Motorcycles can’t have handlebars or grips more than 30 inches higher than the seat or saddle if they are going to be driven on a public roadway.
- Motorcyclists must have proper feet positioning.
- Motorcyclists have special privileges during parades and public demonstrations.
- Motorcyclists cannot cling to other vehicles on a roadway.
- Special laws govern the driving of off-road motorcycles on public highways.
- A driver must have a motorcycle endorsement on his or her driver’s license to legally operate a motorcycle.