Do you know the law?

Police - Motorcycle Safety

You come to a four-way stop at the same time as another bike arriving at the left cross street. Who has the r ight of way? You get caught going 62 in a 55 mph zone. You get a ticket (not a warning), but there are no points, no insurance company notifi cation and nothing on your record. How did that happen? You’re the tail gunner on a group ride that is on a ramp entering an interstate highway. As the group begins to merge onto the interstate, you check its right lane, see that it is clear and secure it by crossing the space marked with white lines between the ramp and the right lane of the interstate. A highway patrol officer fl ags you down and writes you a three-point ticket and sends you to traffic school. What happened?

Good for you if you know the answers. If not, then it might be time to review the traffic laws for the states in which you travel. My wife, Althea, and I ride in Arizona mostly, so we read about Arizona traf fic laws at http://www.azleg.gov/ArizonaRevisedStatutes.asp?Title=28. In Oklahoma, for example, it is Title 47. In Kentucky, it is Revised Statutes Chapter 189. All of the statutes you need are easily accessible via the internet.

We should know the basics to stay safe. The answers for Arizona: The answer to the four-way stop situation is no one has the right of way. Yes, the rider at the left cross street must yield to you as the rider on the right, but if he/she fails to do so and you proceed into the intersection at the same time resulting in a crash, both riders can be cited, costing you six points on your license. There are no traffic laws that give “unofficial” vehicles and most “official vehicles” the right of way at any time.

The second situation is one where it pays to be nice to the officer talking to you. He/she has the option of not writing you a speeding ticket, but a ticket for “Waste of Finite Resources.” This is only applicable on 55 mph highways with your speed under 65. So, be polite and ask for that one since it will not go on your driving record (and impress the officer that you even know that law exists).

The tail gunner in the third situation crossed a “gore area” costing him three points. A gore area is the space between a through roadway and an exit or entrance ramp. And it’s not only for the interstate. You can see gore areas next to right turn only lanes and anywhere lanes divide to separate traffic moving in different directions.

There is also the “five-car rule” that says vehicles traveling at speeds “less than normal traffic” on two-lane roads must pull to the right to let following vehicles pass if there are fi ve or more backed up behind them. I can think of a few situations while following a 10-mph-under driver on a mountain road that I muttered into the intercom, “Where is a cop when you need one.”

You’ll find laws that cover headlight modulators (Federal statute), motorcycles in HOV lanes, defi nition of “intersection” (for those caught by intersection cameras), prima-facie speed limits (speed limit on rural roads that are not posted), and a host of other laws with which you can impress (or bore) your friends at the next ice cream run. And for those headed for Billings this summer, a quick review of your “travel states” laws may save you cash for chrome and bling.


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