Motorcycle Legislative Highlights

Helmets and Other Key Safety Laws

Michigan law requires motorcycle riders to:

  • Michigan law now allows motorcyclists to decide for themselves, if certain conditions are met, whether or not to wear a helmet. To legally not wear a helmet, a motorcycle operator must:

    • Be at least 21 years old.

    • Have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits.

    • Have held a motorcycle endorsement for at least two years, or have passed an approved motorcycle safety course.

  • The law also allows for motorcycle passengers to not wear a helmet. Passengers also may not wear a helmet as long as they:

    • Be at least 21 years old.

    • Have at least $20,000 in first-party medical benefits insurance in addition to the insurance that is required of the motorcycle operator.

  • A person younger than 21 years old still must wear a helmet approved by the U.S. Department of Transportation when operating or riding on a motorcycle. The requirement that an individual younger than 19 years old must wear a helmet if operating a moped on a public roadway is unchanged.

  • Use shatterproof goggles, a face shield, or windshield to protect your eyes when riding at speeds of 35 mph or more.  Eye protection is recommended when riding at any speed

  • Sit on a regular, permanently attached seat
  • Never let someone without a motorcycle endorsement ride your motorcycle
  • Never attach your body or your motorcycle to another vehicle for a "tow"
  • Never ride a motorcycle on sidewalks, more than two side-by-side on a public road, between lanes of traffic, between traffic and the curb, or on a bicycle path


Lane Use
When operating your motorcycle, you are entitled to use a full lane.

Freeways or Limited Access
Motorcycles with engines smaller than 125 cc are not allowed on freeways or limited access highways.

Safety Equipment on the Motorcycle
Your motorcycle must have the following equipment, which must be in good condition:  front and rear wheel brakes, headlight, taillight, stop-light, muffler, horn, rear-view mirror, and permanently attached seat.

Handlebar Height
Your motorcycle handlebars must be positioned so that there are no more than 15 inches between the lowest point of the (unoccupied) seat to the highest point of the handle grips.

Signaling Turns 
Signaling is both a courtesy and a legal requirement.  Before stopping, turning, or changing lanes, see if it is safe.  Then, communicate to other drivers by giving the required signal, either by using your left hand and arm or an electrical turn signal device.  Start your signal at least 100 feet before you turn.  In heavy traffic or on freeways, signal sooner so drivers behind you have time to change their speed or position.  Make sure your turn signal light has stopped blinking after you have turned. 

The proper hand and arm signals are: left arm and hand bent up for a right turn; left arm and hand straight out for a left turn; and left arm and hand bent down for a slow or stop.