Does New York State Law Differ in how it Treats Motorcyclists as Compared to Drivers of 4-Wheel Motor Vehicles?


A motorcyclist has the same rights and duties of any other motor vehicle driver, however there are certain rules that only apply to those operating motorcycles.

For one, it is illegal for motorcyclists to overtake other vehicles while driving in the same lane. A motorcyclist shall not ride between lanes (no lane splitting). The law explicitly states that it is unlawful for motorcyclists to operate “between lanes of traffic or between adjacent lines or rows of vehicles”.However, motorcyclists are allowed to ride two abreast in a single lane. See Vehicle and Traffic Law §1252.

Car drivers must keep at least one hand on the steering wheel at all times, while motorcyclists must keep both hands on the handlebars at all times.Thus, carrying a package or bundle which would prevent keeping both hands on the handlebars of a motorcycle is not allowed. See Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1251.

Otherwise, the law explicitly states “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”. See Vehicle and Traffic Law § 1250.

One major difference is insurance coverage. Persons injured in an accident involving a motor vehicle are entitled to have economic expenses such as medical costs paid by no fault insurance. The benefits of having no fault coverage may for the medical costs is that there are no deductibles, co-payments, or liens. However, motorcyclists do not get the benefit of no fault insurance, and thus if a motorcyclist is injured in an accident he or she will have to use their health insurance to pay for medical costs, or pay out of pocket.

If you or someone you know is injured in an accident involving a motorcycle, you should contact a New York Personal Injury Lawyer experienced in handling motorcycle accidents.

Even if a motorcyclist or motor vehicle driver violated the traffic rules, such does not automatically bar recovery. One must assess all of the factors.

The law firm of Zalman Schnurman & Miner P.C. is a New York law firm experienced in handling motorcycle accidents and can be contacted at 1-800-LAWLINE. 1-800-529-5463. Consultations are always free, and all cases are handled on a contingency basis.

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