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Washington motorcyclists and the right to use the road

In the last few days of summer, many motorcyclists are out enjoying Seattle's roadways. Unfortunately, this isn't always the safest way to travel. These motorcycles are prone to motorcycle accidents due to the negligence of others. Motorcycles do not provide the protection that larger vehicles are afforded. In some cases, other drivers may feel like motorcycles are a distraction on the road. Motorcycles have a bad reputation, in some cases, for disregarding traffic rules. Therefore, some drivers may think that motorcyclists have a right to be on Washington's roadways.

However, this is not the case. Under section 46.61.608 of the Washington code, motorcycles have the right to be on Washington's roads and highways. In fact, Washington motorcyclists are allowed the full use of a lane on any particular street, road or highway. This means that other drivers must treat a motorcyclist like any other vehicle on the roadway. Furthermore, under the statute, drivers of larger vehicles are prohibited from restricting a motorcycle's full use of a lane of traffic.

With this right, however, come certain responsibilities. Motorcyclists also have to follow the rules of the road. Under section 46.61.608(2), motorcyclists have rules that they must follow on the road. Under this section, motorcyclists cannot use a single lane to pass a car that is already in that lane nor can motorcyclists pass cars in between lanes. Furthermore, motorcyclists must also maintain a safe distance -- of at least three feet -- while passing pedestrians or bicyclists on the roadways. Additionally, the statute limits the number of motorcyclist that can ride together in a single lane to two.

These rules and responsibilities are in place to keep motorcyclists and others safe while on Washington roads. However, motorcycle accidents are still common and can cause serious injuries. In these cases, if the accident was caused by a negligent driver -- including one that was not respecting a motorcyclist's right to a full lane -- then the motorcyclist may be entitled to compensation.

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