In 2012, the state of Ohio saw well over 4,000 motorcycle accidents. Of these, there were 3,824 injuries and 163 fatalities. The majority of the fatalities occurred in people between the ages of 51 and 55, and over half of the 163 fatalities were persons aged 41 to 65. Ohio’s motorcycle laws do not require that helmets be worn except in novice riders or riders under the age of 18; of the 163 fatalities, 121 riders were without helmets.


Given these statistics and the number of motorcyclists who died or were injured, it’s important to review a list of some of the motorcycle laws in Ohio. This will hopefully be of use to all who ride motorcycles and those considering purchasing motorcycles in the near future. Because the laws differ for motorcyclists on and off roads, laws for both conditions will be listed and designated appropriately:


  • Helmet laws: On road laws state helmets must be worn for novice riders and riders under the age of 18. Passengers must wear a helmet in any case when one is required for the driver. Off road laws state helmets are not required.

  • Eye protection: Eye protection is required on roads unless the motorcycle is equipped with a windscreen. Off road laws do not require eye protection.

  • Lane splitting: Driving between lanes to avoid slow or stalled traffic is illegal in Ohio. In fact, lane splitting by motorcycles is prohibited in most states, with California being the major exception.
  • Muffler: Having a muffler on your motorcycle is required by law for both on road driving and off-roading.

  • Age Restriction: On road laws require drivers to have a valid driver’s license, while off road laws allow a person between the ages of 12 and 16 to operate a motorcycle under the direct supervision of a properly licensed person 18 years old or older.

  • Passenger restrictions: There are no age restrictions for motorcycle passengers, either off or on road. On road laws do require a passenger seat and footrest if the motorcyclist has a passenger. Off road laws do not mention passenger restrictions.

  • Mirrors: At least one rearview mirror that commands a view of the road behind the motorcyclist is required by on road law.

  • Two motorcycles abreast: On road law allows for two motorcyclists to ride abreast in the same lane. Any more than two, however, is prohibited.

  • Safety inspections: Periodic motorcycle safety inspections are required by on road law and are conducted at random.

  • Turn signals: On road laws state that turn signals are required in all motorcycles manufactured after January 1, 1968.

  • Other state endorsements: Ohio does accept motorcycle endorsements from other states.

  • Headlights/Brake lights: At least one headlight and no more than two headlights are required by on road law, while a minimum of one brake light is also required. Off road laws state that headlights are required after sunset.

Strict adherence to the motorcycle laws set forth by the state of Ohio will help to ensure a safe passage for motorcyclists and motorists alike.