In Ohio, a motorcyclist is not required by law to wear a helmet unless he or she is under 18 years of age or holds a motorcycle operator’s endorsement or license bearing a “novice” designation that is currently in effect.
A motorcycle operator must also wear a helmet if he or she is driving with a valid temporary instruction permit. If the operator of the motorcycle is required to wear a helmet, any passenger must also wear one. These laws are codified in the Ohio Revised Code at R.C. 4511.53.
A motorcyclist’s helmet and safety glasses (or other protective eye device) must conform to regulations promulgated by Ohio’s Director of Public Safety. Eye protection is required in Ohio unless the bike is equipped with a windscreen.
Ohio law also prohibits a person operating a motorcycle from riding “other than upon the permanent and regular seat attached thereto” or carrying any other person upon the motorcycle other than upon a firmly attached and regular seat.
A person may ride a motorcycle only while sitting “astride” the seat, facing forward with one leg on each side of the motorcycle. It is unlawful to carry more persons at one time than the number of people for which the motorcycle is designed and equipped.
A footrest and a passenger seat are required for any passenger. DMV.org, a privately owned website, cautions that carrying passengers can affect different aspects of a bike’s handling and is not like carrying a heavy suitcase or a large package on the back of the bike. DMV.org is designed to assist drivers with issues relating to the various state motor vehicle departments. The organization recommends that motorcyclists practice carrying a passenger in a low-traffic area and consider taking a safety course before riding with passengers. There is no age restriction for motorcycle passengers in Ohio.
Ohio law does not restrict the use of helmet speakers, but earplug use is prohibited while driving a motorcycle.
Additional information about motorcycle equipment, whether Ohio accepts motorcycle endorsements from other states, and other issues concerning motorcycles can be obtained by visiting motorcycle.ohio.gov and dmv.org/oh-ohio/motorcycle-license.php.
Many practices concerning the safe operation of motorcycles are clearly defined, but there are exceptions. For example, there is disagreement whether “lane splitting” is dangerous or might make riding safer in certain situations. Lane splitting is the practice of a motorcycle passing between lanes of stopped or slowly moving traffic going in the same direction. The practice is legal in California and some foreign countries. Bills have been introduced to legalize lane splitting in various other states throughout the U.S., but none have been enacted.
The American Motorcycle Association (AMA) claims there is evidence that lane splitting slightly reduces rear-end crashes for motorcyclists and provides them with an escape route in some situations. In Ohio, lane splitting is not specifically authorized by statute, but it is not expressly defined as illegal either. That does not mean, however, that a motorcyclist engaging in the practice won’t be cited for failure to drive in marked lanes or engaging in an unsafe lane change.
Ohio law requires a motorcyclist to carry at least $25,000 in liability insurance to cover property damage, $25,000 in bodily injury insurance for an accident involving one person, and $50,000 in bodily injury insurance for an accident involving two or more persons.
Other proof of financial responsibility is also permissible – such as obtaining a certificate issued by the BMV indicating that money or government bonds in the amount of $30,000 is on deposit with the office of the Treasurer of the State of Ohio. The penalty for not meeting the insurance and financial responsibility requirements is loss of driving privileges for up to two years.
A person seeking a motorcycle license must pass a written exam to secure a Temporary Instruction Permit Identification Card (TIPIC). He or she must then take a Basic Rider Course or a motorcycle skills test. Those seeking a motorcycle license are required to become familiar with Ohio’s Motorcycle Operator’s Manual and the Digest of Ohio Motor Vehicle Laws.