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What standards apply for motorcycles in Pennsylvania?

Many Pennsylvania residents enjoy going out with a group of friends or by themselves and riding their motorcycle. Before hitting the road, individuals often make sure they have the gear and equipment necessary for the ride, along with any extra items they may plan to bring along.

Indeed, this pre-ride check can be important not only to make sure someone does not forget something, but also to comply with Pennsylvania law. Under state law, a motorcycle must be in good operating condition in order to ride on the roads. This includes meeting certain standards for braking, suspension, steering and other systems.

For example, a person must have a headlamp system that contains the required number of lights, and that puts out a certain minimum and maximum candlepower for both low and high beams. Motorcycles must also contain at least one red stop lamp, which must be illuminated when the driver applies the brake.

These standards are put in place to ensure safety on the roads. Accordingly, while individuals may also face other penalties for not complying with the standards, these standards could also come into play in a personal injury lawsuit based on a motorcycle accident. Often times, a wide variety of factors are assessed in determining what caused the accident, including whether the vehicles involved had any defects that played a part in the crash, and whether the person operating the vehicle was a negligent driver.

For example, while rear end accidents are typically the fault of the person riding behind the other vehicle, there could be questions raised if a motorcycle did not have an operating rear lamp that showed the motorcycle was braking. Circumstances like these can lead to accusations of fault from both drivers involved. Ultimately, however, a determination of fault can only be made after a careful examination of all facts and circumstances leading up to the accident.

Source: Pennsylvania Department of Transportation, "Subchapter H: Motorcycles," accessed on Nov. 29, 2914

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