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Kansas Motorcycle Laws and Licensing

Kansas Motorcycle Laws and Licensing

Also referred to as the Sunflower State, Kansas is a state defined by its many rolling plains and prairies. Because of the hilly terrain and open flats, the highways that cut through the green and golden territories provide good routes for you to take your motorcycle out for a spin. But before you head out, you may need to refresh your memory on how a motorcyclist should act while riding down the road.

You probably have heard the phrase, “Driving is a privilege, not a right.” Well, this quote definitely applies to motorcycles as well. A motorcycle is a two-wheeled vehicle designed for sport, adventure, and speed that most four-wheeled vehicles cannot match. However, just because you feel like taking risks does not mean it is okay to do so. The roads do not belong to motorcyclists alone and if you act carelessly, you may not be the only one who gets hurt.

As much as people love the freedom that comes with riding a motorcycle, sometimes they forget their better judgment when pushing the limits of their ride. Throughout the United States, motorcycle laws are set to dissuade motorcyclists from engaging in risky behavior without sacrificing the thrill that comes with riding a motorcycle. This article will focus on the motorcycle laws in the state of Kansas.

1. Kansas Motorcycle Insurance

Before riding a motorcycle in Kansas, you are required to have some form of insurance coverage. In case you get into an accident, you have to be able to pay for repair costs, replacement parts, compensation for property damages, and medical bills for injuries sustained during the accident. Owning motorcycle insurance shows proof of liability in situations involving collisions.

Your motorcycle insurance must at least cover the following minimum costs:

  • You must provide $10,000 for property damage coverage per accident
  • You must provide $25,000 for bodily injury coverage per person
  • You must provide $50,000 for bodily injury coverage per accident

You are also required to have uninsured motorist coverage and underinsured motorist coverage as well. For both uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage, you must pay $25,000 per injured person and $50,000 for bodily injury per accident. Uninsured motorist coverage helps in situations dealing with a hit and run driver or a driver who does not own motorcycle insurance. Underinsured motorist coverage is useful when interacting with a driver who has insufficient motorcycle insurance.

2. Kansas Motorcycle Helmet & Eye Protection Laws

In Kansas, you are only required to wear a helmet if you are under the age of 18. The motorcycle helmet you choose has to be approved by the Department of Transportation. You will know the motorcycle helmet fulfills the qualifications if it has the DOT logo or sticker towards the back of it. If you want to look for specific features, these are the ones to look out for:

  • The motorcycle helmet has to weigh at least 3 lbs
  • Should come equipped with D-rings and a chinstrap to help keep it secure
  • The impact-absorbing lining inside of the helmet should be at least 1 inch thick

It is recommended you always wear a motorcycle helmet even if you are not required to. There are benefits to wearing one including a face shield that protects you from bugs and debris, lowering the volume of the wind and other vehicles, and helping increase your visibility to other drivers.

If your motorcycle helmet does not have a face shield, you will have to put on motorcycle goggles or glasses to protect your eyes. You are only required to wear additional eye protection if your motorcycle lacks a windshield that reaches at least 10 inches high above your handlebars.


3. Kansas Motorcycle License Laws

The credentials you need to acquire if you want to be able to ride a motorcycle is either a Class M driver’s license or a learner’s permit.

A learner’s permit can only be obtained by individuals who are at least the age of 14 or older. The learner’s permit is only valid for 1 year. You are only allowed to ride your motorcycle while under the supervision of an adult who owns a Class M license.

A restricted Class M driver’s license can only be applied for by individuals who are the age of 16 or older. In order to receive one, you have to have the following qualifications:

  • Have practiced for 50 hours under the supervision of an adult who owns a Class M license.
  • Passed the written and practical driving skills exams.
  • Or has proof of a Certificate of Completion from a motorcycle driver education course.

If you want a standard Class M driver’s license, you must be at least 17 years old or older. You will have to follow these steps to be eligible:

  • Visit the Kansas Department of Revenue and fill out an application
  • Provide documentation of your identity, residency, and legal presence
  • Take a vision exam
  • Pay the required fees for your application and exams
  • Complete the written driving skills exam
  • Pass the practical driving skills exam or do a motorcycle safety training course


4. Kansas Motorcycle Noise Restriction Laws


Your motorcycle must be outfitted with a muffler positioned close to the exhaust pipes. You will be held responsible for attaching and maintaining the muffler to ensure that it prevents too much noise or smoke from escaping. You are not allowed to apply a muffler cut-out, bypass, or anything similar. Tampering with the muffler in this way may compromise its functionality.

You are only allowed to make slight adjustments to the engine and ignition to better lower the amount of smoke, fumes, and noise emitted from the exhaust.

There are no universal noise restrictions throughout Kansas. How loud your motorcycle is allowed to be depends on the rules of the specific region or county you pass through. Local law enforcement will determine whether your vehicle meets the noise restrictions of a specific region or county when conducting periodic inspections.


5. Kansas Motorcycle Passenger Laws

Kansas does not have any age restrictions in place regarding motorcycle passengers.

For your motorcycle to be qualified to carry a passenger, it must be designed with a seat big enough to fit two people or install an additional seat designated for the passenger. It is illegal to ride on a motorcycle with two people trying to squeeze into a single seat that is too small. There also must be footsteps for the passenger to prevent their legs and feet from hanging freely while the motorcycle is in motion.

Your passenger is required to comply with the motorcycle safety laws as well even though he/she is not holding the handles. The passenger must wear a DOT approved helmet and eye protection if he/she is under the age of 18. The passenger has to be able to comfortably reach the footholds without any difficulties.

As the safety of your passenger is your responsibility, you will have to provide instructions when you are turning, braking, etc. so that his/her body follows your movements. Even when your passenger mimics you almost perfectly, your motorcycle will not perform at optimal capacity. The added weight will affect how much throttle you apply, how early you have to use the brake, and how much space you put between yourself and vehicles directly in front of you.


6. Kansas Motorcycle Lane Splitting Laws

Motorcyclists are allowed to make full use of the space within a lane.

Lane splitting is not permitted in Kansas. You cannot overtake or pass another vehicle in front of you while you are both traveling in the same lane. You cannot maneuver your motorcycle between lanes or between adjacent vehicles that are slowed or stopped in traffic.

However, you are allowed to practice lane sharing so long as the vehicle next to you is another motorcycle. It is suggested one of the motorcycles trail a bit behind rather than both vehicles being right beside each other. This will ensure more space for maneuverability when avoiding hazards and allow you to survey a wider range when checking for vehicles in your blind spots. You should never ride with more than two motorcycles in the same lane at once.

7. Kansas Motorcycle Safety Features


Check that your motorcycle has the following safety features and do some maintenance to ensure they are functioning normally before you go out on a ride:

  • A headlight
  • A taillight
  • A brake lights
  • A horn
  • Turn signal lights on both sides
  • Rearview mirrors on both sides
  • A registration plate light
  • A rear red reflector
  • A rear stop lamps

The purpose of most of these safety features is to increase your visibility to other vehicles regardless of the time of day. All of the lights must be on and functioning properly whenever your motorcycle is running. The various lights on the front and back of your ride can be easily spotted in the dark, but they can still be seen even during the daytime.

The horn helps to signal your presence to other drivers who are far away or not within your line of sight. It also warns other drivers switching lanes that they are about to collide with you.

Rearview mirrors will give you better awareness of your surroundings. They can easily become coated with debris so make sure to wipe it clean regularly to give you the clearest view behind you.

The turn signals and brake light signal which direction you are going to any other drivers who are behind or beside you. Make sure to remember how to relay turn signals by hand in the unlikely situation your lights run out of power.

If your motorcycle was a model built after 1973, your turn signal lights must be electrical.

If your motorcycle was a model built after 1978, you must also add lighted headlights and taillights when you are riding at all times.


8. Takeaway

After reading this article, you are probably groaning at the thought of having to memorize all of this information if you ever plan to go on a tour through Kansas. After all, what is the point of remembering all these laws if they are just going to change again in a couple of months or years?

Well, knowing the latest version of the Kansas motorcycle laws will help you prepare your qualifications for operating a motorcycle in Kansas like your insurance and license. You will know where to examine your motorcycle when making sure all the safety features and muffler are in good condition. And you will check that you are wearing all the motorcycle safety gear and driving safely so you do not endanger a passenger or other drivers.

You may not look back at the time you spent learning the Kansas motorcycle laws fondly. But every minute you spend on the road without getting into trouble with the law or in an accident is a result of you taking the time to become a more careful and responsible motorcyclist. 

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