In Tennessee, any motorist with a valid Tennessee driver’s license is legally allowed to operate a motorized bicycle that is rated at 50cc or less. However, special licensing is required for any motor-driven cycle beyond that rating.
Beginning at age 15, Tennessee residents are eligible to receive a special motorcycle learner permit, which is designed to enable young riders how to safely operate a motorcycle while also putting severe restrictions that limit their ability to cause harm to other drivers. For example, young riders with these permits are limited to driving only during daylight hours, and they are prohibited from operating motorcycles beyond 650 cc maximum cylinder size. Additionally, these riders are prohibited from using interstate highways or roadways unless they are specially marked. Motorcyclists with learning permits are also limited to travel only within 20 miles of their homes and aren’t allowed passengers.
Although these rules may sound very restrictive, Tennessee has good reason to keep tight controls over inexperienced motorcyclists as they develop their riding skills and understanding of safety regulations. In 2013, at least 134 fatal motorcycle accidents occurred throughout the state. According to the Department of Safety and Homeland Security, at least 127 of those tragic deaths occurred while motorcyclists were wearing protective helmets.
The lesson here is that a certain number of accidents involving motorcycles in Tennessee are inevitable. This is despite the state’s focus on safety for young motorcyclists as well as the usage of protective helmets by riders. Far too often, these accidents are caused by other driver’s failure to see motorcyclists that are sharing the road with them. A car or SUV that abruptly changes lanes into a roadway occupied by motorcycle can easily result in serious injuries or death to the motorcyclist.
In those cases, sometimes a civil lawsuit seeking compensation for the motorcyclist’s medical expenses and lost wages may be the best way to restore them to their pre-accident condition.
Source: Tennessee Department of Safety and Homeland Security, “Motorcycle Operator (Class M) License” Oct. 21, 2014