Each state in the U.S. has state-specific laws governing the operation of motorcycles on public roads. Hawaii is no exception. These laws are designed for the safety of riders and others on the road. Before you ride a motorcycle in Hawaii, you should make sure that you are familiar with the specific motorcycle laws in the state.
Hawaii’s motorcycle laws also give riders legal recourse if they are hurt in an accident with a negligent driver or another party. A biker or passenger who is hurt in a motorcycle crash in Hawaii could be eligible to recover significant compensation if the accident was caused by someone else’s carelessness, recklessness, or otherwise negligent actions.
Our knowledgeable personal injury attorneys in Honolulu at the Recovery Law Center are ready to stand up for you if you’ve been hurt in a motorcycle crash. To schedule a free, no-obligation consultation, call us or contact us online today.
Hawaii Motorcycle Helmet and Safety Laws
Like many state laws governing road safety, the rules may be different depending on the age of the driver or passenger. Motorcyclists under the age of 18 are required to wear a helmet secured with a chin strap when riding or driving a motorcycle.
According to the State of Hawaii Motorcycle Operator Manual, riders under the age of 18 must wear a helmet approved by the Department of Transportation. Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 218 (FMVSS 218) sets requirements for helmets with several factors in mind, which include:
- Inner Lining — Federally approved helmets will typically have a thick lining of polystyrene foam. The minimum thickness is one inch, and it may or may not be visible, but you should be able to feel the padding.
- Chin Strap and Rivets — DOT-approved helmets will have a strong chin strap and durable rivets to further secure the helmet in the event of a collision or accident.
- Helmet Weight — Unsafe helmets are lighter than those approved under FMVSS 218. Due to the structure and padding, substantial and safe helmets usually weigh around three pounds.
- Visibility — Helmets should allow drivers to see as far in their periphery as possible while still complying with other safety standards. Full face helmets include eye protection to guard against debris. Three-quarter or open-face helmets do not include eye shields but are still allowed if they meet other standards.
When looking for an approved helmet, be attuned to labeling. Under the regulations, approved helmets will have a DOT sticker on the back. In addition to the exterior DOT label, high-quality helmets approved by organizations like the American National Standards Institute or the Snell Foundation have another label inside of the helmet.
Hawaii Motorcycle License Requirements
No matter your age, getting a license to drive a motorcycle in Hawaii is an involved process. The various steps prospective motorcyclists must take are designed to give them the knowledge and exposure that they need to navigate the road safely. The following generally outlines the timeline for obtaining a motorcycle license:
- Knowledge Assessment — Before getting a permit, drivers must take a general knowledge test to establish a basic understanding of the road. This test covers topics like road signage, proper signaling, and other precautions specific to operating a motorcycle. Coupled with this assessment, prospective drivers must pass a vision test. When these two requirements have been completed, drivers are granted an instruction permit, which is valid for a year.
- Education Certification — For drivers under 18, the Hawaii Department of Transportation requires an additional class. This class can only be taken if these drivers have already completed 90 days of practice toward their learner’s permit.
- Instruction Permit — Once a driver obtains an instruction permit, they are cleared to begin learning to ride. For their safety and the safety of others, a motorcyclist with a permit is not allowed to drive with passengers or after dark before getting their license.
- Performance Test — Lastly, before being granted a license, motorcyclists must pass a performance test. During the assessment, drivers must display proficiency in maneuvering and demonstrate basic knowledge and skills (in addition to having their chosen motorcycle tested and cleared for safety).
Once all of these requirements have been met, drivers are eligible to obtain their motorcycle licenses.
Insurance Requirements for Motorcyclists in Hawaii
Insurance coverage offers crucial protection for motorcyclists and others on the road. For this reason, motorcyclists in Hawaii must have a motor scooter or motorcycle liability insurance at all times. Drivers must have proof of insurance with them while operating their vehicles. Anyone driving without proof of insurance is subject to a citation of at least $100.
To purchase motor vehicle insurance, drivers must provide either a valid motorcycle license or learner’s permit. In many instances, completing a motorcycle safety education course makes drivers eligible for a discount on their insurance premiums.
Minimum coverage for a motorcycle insurance policy includes:
- $20,000 coverage per person for bodily injury
- $40,000 coverage per person where multiple people were hurt
- $10,000 coverage per incident for property damage
In addition to these provisions, insurance companies must offer drivers optional coverage, including medical payment coverage for injury expenses, an income disability plan in the event of serious injuries, and higher liability coverage.
Is Lane Splitting Legal in Hawaii?
Lane splitting (the practice of driving between lanes), is a maneuver that some motorcyclists use to get through traffic more easily. This practice is also commonly referred to as filtering or white lining.
Though many motorcyclists in Hawaii participate in lane splitting, it is not legal.
Over the years, there has been some debate about whether lane splitting should be permitted, with the legislature ultimately not settling on legalization. However, in 2018 the Hawaii legislature passed House Bill 2859, which allows for two-wheeled motorcycles to drive on the shoulder.
Currently, California is the only state where lane splitting is expressly permitted by law.
Call the Recovery Law Center After a Motorcycle Accident in Hawaii
Reach out to an experienced motorcycle accident lawyer Glenn Honda and the team at the Recovery Law Center to discuss your legal options in the aftermath of a motorcycle accident. If the carelessness of another person caused your injuries, you should not be left to deal with the consequences alone.
Call us or contact us online now to discuss your case for free.