Rules for motorcyclists (83 to 88)

Part of: The Highway Code

The Highway Code for Northern Ireland's rules for motorcyclists. These rules are in addition to rules 89-307 in the following sections, which apply to all vehicles. Also see Motorcycle licence requirements.


On all journeys, the rider and pillion passenger on a motorcycle, scooter or moped must wear a protective helmet. This does not apply to a follower of the Sikh religion while wearing a turban. Helmets must comply with the regulations and they must be fastened securely. Riders and passengers of motor tricycles and quadricycles, also called quad bikes, should also wear a protective helmet. Before each journey check that your helmet visor is clean and in good condition.

Laws MC(PH)R (as amended) reg 2 & RTO 1995 Arts 27 & 28

Please Note:  Change to Rule 83 
The Motorcycles (Protective Headgear) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1999 which mandates the wearing of helmets for those who ride motorcycles will be extended to those who ride motor quadricycles with effect from 30 June 2017. The new legislation will apply only to public roads as the Department does not have the powers to legislate for private land.  


It is also advisable to wear eye protectors, which must comply with the Regulations. Scratched or poorly fitting eye protectors can limit your view when riding, particularly in bright sunshine and the hours of darkness. Consider wearing ear protectors. Strong boots, gloves and suitable clothing may help to protect you if you are involved in a collision.

Laws MC(EP)R (as amended) reg 2 & RTO 1995 Art 29


You must not carry more than one pillion passenger, who must sit astride the machine on a proper seat. They should face forward with both feet on the footrests. You must not carry a pillion passenger unless your motorcycle is designed to do so. Provisional licence holders must not carry a pillion passenger.

Laws RTO 1995 Art 34, MV(DL)R reg 12(5) & CUR reg 118

86 (daylight riding)

Make yourself as visible as possible from the side as well as the front and the rear. You could wear a light or brightly coloured helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips. Dipped headlights, even in good daylight, may also make you more conspicuous. However, be aware that other vehicle drivers may still not have seen you, or judged your distance or speed correctly, especially at junctions.

Highway Code for Northern Ireland rule 86 - help yourself to be seen

87 (riding in the dark)

Wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your visibility in the dark. These reflect the light from the headlamps of other vehicles, making you visible from a long distance. See rules 113–116 for lighting requirements.

88 (manoeuvring)

You should be aware of what is behind and to the sides before manoeuvring. Look behind you; use mirrors if they are fitted. When in traffic queues, look out for pedestrians crossing between vehicles and vehicles emerging from junctions, or changing lanes.  Position yourself so that drivers can see you in their mirrors. Additionally, when filtering in slow-moving traffic, take care and keep your speed low.

Remember: observation - signal - manoeuvre

Additional rules

The following Highway Code rules are in addition to those stated above and apply to all vehicles:

Rules for drivers and motorcyclists (89 to 102).

General rules, techniques and advice for all drivers and riders (103 to 158).

The Highway Code: Motorcycle licence requirements.

More useful links

Share this page


Your comments are anonymous and can’t be responded to - if you would like a reply, use the feedback form.

Your comments
Plain text only, 750 characters maximum. Don't include personal or financial information.