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H A N D B O O K
Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor State of California
F CALIFO R
Dale E. Bonner, Secretary Business, Transportation and Housing Agency George Valverde, Director Department of Motor Vehicles
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taBle oF coNteNts
DisclaiMer ............................. ii
Where to Write ...................... ii
DMV iNForMatioN .....................1
tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN ...2
Motor-Driven Cycles ......................2
Motorized Bicycles ........................3
Motorized Scooter .........................3
Lane Positions ..........................13
Following Another Vehicle ........14
Being Followed ........................14
Passing and Being Passed......14
Merging Cars ...........................16
Search, Evaluate, and
Execute (SEE) ..........................16
Passing Parked Cars................18
Parking at the Roadside...........19
Brake Light ...............................21
Using Your Mirrors ....................21
Head Checks ...........................22
Riding at Night .........................22
Crash Avoidance .........................23
Swerving or Turning
Uneven Surfaces and
Railroad or Trolley Tracks and
Grooves and Gratings ..............27
Mechanical Problems ..................28
Engine Seizure .........................29
liceNse reQUireMeNts ..............3
Earning Your License.....................4
Basic Rider Course .......................4
Application Requirements —
All Drivers ...................................4
Minors’ M1/M2 Permit
Minors’ M1/M2 License
Adults’ M1/M2 Permit
License Requirements —
All Drivers ...................................5
Motorcycle Skills Test ....................6
PrePariNG to riDe ....................7
Wearing the Right Gear.................7
Helmet Selection ........................7
Eye and Face Protection ............8
Know Your Motorcycle ...................9
The Right Motorcycle .................9
Get Familiar with the
Check Your Motorcycle...............9
Know Your Responsibilities..........10
riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities....... 11
Basic Vehicle Control................... 11
Body Position ........................... 11
Shifting Gears........................... 11
Keeping Your Distance ................13
Getting Off The Road...................30
Instructing Passengers ............31
Riding With Passengers ...........31
Group Riding ...............................32
Keep the Group Small..............32
Keep the Group Together .........32
Keep Your Distance ..................32
BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe ............ 34
Blood Alcohol Concentration ....... 34
Alcohol and the Law .................... 34
Minimize the Risks ......................35
Facts ................................. 35
eVaDiNG a Peace oFFicer .......... 36
treaD liGhtlY! ....................... 36
This handbook is only a summary of the laws and regulations. DMV, law enforcement, and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code. You may buy a copy of the California Vehicle Code at any DMV office or visit our website at www.dmv.ca.gov.
Where to Write
If you have any comments or suggestions regarding this publication, please send them to:
Department of Motor Vehicles
Customer Communications Section MS H165
PO Box 932345
Sacramento, CA 94232-3450
© Copyright, Department of Motor Vehicles 2009
All rights reserved.
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All requests for permission to make copies of all or any part of this publication
should be addressed to:
Department of Motor Vehicles Legal Office MS C128
PO Box 932382
Sacramento, CA 94232-3820
dmv. forms. DMV has two TOLL-FREE telephone numbers. Go online at: www. on Monday. instead of your fees. to 5 p.DMV iNForMatioN DMV field offices are open 8 a. impairments can call. directions. debit card. Thursday. and Friday and from 9 a. tion using a check. A few offices offer only driver license or vehicle registration service. You will need to • Call 1-800-777-0133 between have the Renewal Identification 8 a.gov for: • Online services • Field offices—locations.m. If you would like to advertise in this publication.m. • Call 1-800-921-1117 for DMV’s 1-800-368-4327 for assistance 24-hour voice recognition syswith DMVservices.m. brochures. or credit card. Only typed tem. The products and services provided by the advertising sponsors are not promoted or endorsed by DMV. – Persons with speech or hearing – A driving test appointment. • TTY – Office locations and hours. Call one of the toll-free numbers below or go online to find the locations and business hours of an office near you. please call the Office of State Publishing Advertising Department at 1-866-824-0603. and publications. 7 messages from another TTY days a week to: are received and responded to – Renew your vehicle registra at this number. to speak to a Number provided on your bill DMV representative for: ing notice. helps defray the printing costs of this publication. and 5 p. sample tests • Senior driver information • Teen driver information • Links to other state and federal agencies Advertising sponsorship. It’s open 24 hours a day.m. to 5 p.ca. phone numbers • Making appointments (except for commercial driving tests) • Ordering personalized plates • Driver license and identification card information • Vehicle/vessel registration information • Downloadable forms • Publications—handbooks. Tuesday. but the significant contribution by the advertising sponsors is most appreciated. toll free. pointment.m. on Wednesday. hours. – Driver license and vehicle – Make a non-driving test ap registration information. -1 .m.
hiking trail. If any of these vehicles are operated on a highway. equestrian (horse) trail. motordriven cycles. registration. The MSF. or bicycles with a motor attached. safe driving rules. law enforcement.iNtroDUctioN This booklet supplements the California Driver Handbook concerning traffic laws. and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code. DMV. remem ber that it is only a summary of the laws and regulations. or recre ational trail unless that path or trail is on or next to a road or permission to use the trail or roadway is granted by local law. motorcycles A motorcycle: • Has a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels. Por tions of this booklet which deal with safe driving practices (rather than traffic laws) were developed initially by the National Public Services Re search Institute in cooperation with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). and operation requirements. they must meet applicable equipment. licensing. mopeds. various motorcyclist enthusiast groups. Study the California Driver Handbook as well as this supplement. trail bikes. bicycle path or trail. along with quality motor cycle rider education and increased public awareness. Any person registering a motorcycle is required to obtain a Class M1 or M2 driver license prior to operating the vehicle. California Motor cyclist Safety Program. and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) all agree that improved licensing. When using this handbook. tote-goats. motor-driven cycle. if required. has the potential to reduce the number and severity of motorcycle accidents. NOTE: You may not operate a motor-driven cycle on a freeway if -2 . This supplement provides informa tion for both novice and experienced drivers of two-wheel vehicles. California Highway Patrol (CHP). and similar vehicles may fall within the defini tion of motorcycle. Do not ride a moped on a freeway. and driver licenses. or motorized bicycle. tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN The basic rules of the road contained in the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicles which include motorcycles. motor-Driven cycles A motor-driven cycle is: • A motorcycle with a 149 cc or less engine size. Minibikes.
(VC §406[a]) • Avehicle with pedals and an elec tric motor (not more than 1.000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power. and • The options of having: – a driver seat which cannot interfere with the operator’s ability to stand and ride. • Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility. or motorized scooter and all vehicles listed under Class M2. Be careful of bicyclists using the lane. liceNse reQUireMeNts California issues the following li cense classes for two-wheel vehicle operation: • Class M1—You may operate any two-wheel motorcycle. NOTE:The permit and license requirements in this handbook pertain to two-wheel vehicles and are referenced in Section 12804.9). and equipped with: – fully operative pedals for hu man propulsion. you: • Must be 16 years of age or older. – a motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission. -3 . – an electric motor. motorizeD scooter Amotorized scooter is defined as any two-wheeled “device” with: • A motor. motorizeD Bicycles There are two definitions of motor ized bicycle (moped). and a floorboard for standing on when riding. motor-driven cycle. NOTE: A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.9 of the California Vehicle Code. and moped plate requirements (VC §12804. You may ride a moped in a bicycle lane at a reasonable speed. handlebars.signs are posted to prohibit motordriven cycle operation. A motorized bicycle is: • A two. with or without pedals for human pro pulsion. capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground. (VC §406[b]) If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of VC §406[b]. driver license. • Must wear a properly fitted and fastened bicycle helmet. A motorized scooter may not be used to take a Class M1 or M2 skills test.or three-wheeled device. The motorized scooter’s exhaust system must not be modified or altered. – the ability to be powered by human propulsion.
You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 license at any DMV office which provides driver license services. To obtain your license. Motorcycle law tests and skill tests are required. torcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). • Give a thumb print. moped. application requirements — all Drivers These are the requirements if you already have a basic class driver license. For more information you may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE 411. DMV’s licensing exams are designed to be scored objectively. earning your license Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. CMSP has trained thousands of riders over the past several years. Testing two-wheel vehicle operators is the best measurement of the skills necessary to operate safely in traffic because people often overestimate their own abilities. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for basic class driver license requirements. practices. Basic riDer course Motorcycle applicants are encour aged to enroll in the Basic Rider Course offered by the California Mo -4 . you must: • Submit a completed DMV ap plication form (DL 44).• Class M2—You may operate any motorized bicycle. or a motorized scooter. you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test. NOTE: The Class M1/M2 permit does not allow you to carry pas sengers and you must ride during daylight hours only and not on a freeway. An on-cycle skill test will either be conducted in an actual traf fic environment or in a controlled off-street area. NOTE: Class C licensees may operate a motorcycle with a side car attached or a three-wheel motorcycle. This course offers hands-on motor cycle skill training for novice and returning riders. To obtain an instruction permit to operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public roads. and ideas from this manual. The DMV motorcycle skills test is waived upon completion and submission of the Basic Rider Course. • Pass a test(s) on traffic laws and signs for the class of license you now have unless you have taken the test(s) within the prior twelve months. • Have your picture taken. or a bicycle with an attached motor. Knowl edge test questions are based on information. • Pass an additional law test on motorcycle driving rules. They require that you know and under stand road rules and safe riding practices. • Pay the required application fee. • Pass an eye exam.
• Be at least 16 years old.minors’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 permit. Additionally. you can attend a CHP approved motorcycle training course. you must: • Complete the application and per mit requirements listed above. • Applicants under 21 years of age are required by law to provide a Completion of Motorcycle Training certificate (DL 389) from an approved CHP motor cycle rider training course. aDults’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 instruction permit. If you complete this motorcycle training course and submit a valid DL389. you must: • Complete the requirements listed above. * The term parents means both custodial parents unless only one parent has custody. you must: • Complete the application require ments. (DL 387. Check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for a reduced rate. your insurance cost may be re duced. minors’ m1/m2 license requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. DL 388. if you are applying for a Class M1/M2 license only. Motorcycle training courses are located throughout California. call 1-877-RIDE-411. • Pass a road test. • Complete the application require ments. OL 237. license requirements — all Drivers To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. • If you are 21 years of age or older. This motorcycle training course is highly recommended. • Be 18 years of age. -5 . or all legal guardians unless only one legal guardian has custody. • Pass a DMV skill test or present a DL 389 to waive the skill test. or OL 238). or older. • Have your parents’ * signatures on the application form. you must: • Be 15 ½ years of age and bring proof you have finished both driver education and driver training. The skill test is waived for any per son presenting a valid DL 389. the knowledge and skills you learn in this motorcycle rider training course may help you avoid a serious injury or a fatal collision. For more information and to lo cate the nearest training site. DL 388A.
The items you will be asked to identify are the: • Starter • Kill switch • Clutch • Throttle • Gear selector • Dimmer switch • Brakes • Turn signals • Horn The motorcycle skills test allows the rider to demonstrate his/her abil ity to control the motorcycle through several skills tests. • Slow Ride – Ride slowly be tween two parallel lines keeping the front tire within the tracking path. shifting gears up. You will be asked to identify nine items on your motorcycle before the actual riding portion of the test. You will be asked to demonstrate the following four skills. begin the circle ride twice in a counterclockwise direction or by turning right into the circle tracking path. shifting gears up. then down and end in a smooth stop at the starting point. complete a U-turn and return. return to the starting point weaving once more through the row of five cones. At the end of the tracking path. Start End -6 . • Gear Shift Ride – Ride in a straight path.motorcycle skills test Basic vehicle control skills are in cluded in the motorcycle skills test to determine your ability to maneuver in normal traffic situations. then down. • Circle Ride – Ride around the circle twice in a clockwise di rection keeping the front wheel within the tracking path. you will weave through a row of five traffic cones. The motorcycle skills test is a pass/fail test. which include tracking paths (the area within and including the tracking lines): • Serpentine Ride – Beginning on the right of the first cone. At the end of the row of cones you will begin the circle ride.
Before starting any trip. Many crashes result in head or neck injuries with head injuries being far more com mon. head and neck inju ries are reduced by properly wearing an approved helmet. motordriven cycle. Here are some facts to consider. • Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long) just a few minutes after starting out. • An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. • Check the motorcycle equip ment. • Face or eye protection. you get the most protection by making sure the helmet: • Meets U. motorized bicycle. Whichever style you choose. Unsafe Helmet Interior Safe Helmet Interior -7 . if you are wearing a helmet you are three times more likely to survive a head injury than if you aren’t wearing one. In any crash.PrePariNG to riDe What you do before you start a trip goes a long way toward determining whether you’ll get where you want to go safely. Helmet Use Crashes can occur—particularly among new riders. Wearing the right gear When you ride. Research shows that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries and that with few exceptions. helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by half. • Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a crash occurs. Department of Trans portation (DOT) and state safety standards. a safe rider makes a point to: • Wear the right gear. All operators and passengers must wear an approved safety helmet when riding on a motorcycle. • Be a responsible rider. Helmet Selection There are two primary types of helmets which provide two differ ent levels of coverage: three-quarter and full face. No matter what your speed in a crash.S. At these speeds. you have a far better chance of avoiding serious injury when you wear: • An approved helmet. or motorized scooter. • Become familiar with the mo torcycle. your gear is “right” if it protects you. • Protective clothing.
• Give a clear view to either side. insects. but still allow you to move freely. • Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. all the way around. you can devote your full attention to the road. eye or face shield protection must: • Be free of scratches. slip-resistant material. Other wise. but they don’t protect the rest of your face as a face shield does. It also protects you from wind. Keep your helmet securely fastened on your head when you ride. • Fasten securely. • Permit air to pass through. The heels should be short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. durable. It also provides comfort. cold. Goggles protect your eyes. • Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands. dust. • Has no obvious defects such as cracks. • Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and support them. Most windshields will not protect youreyesfrom the wind. and the hot and moving parts of the motorcycle. Clothing The right clothing protects you in a collision. NOTE: The DOT lettering should not be a stick-on label or easily removed. Glasses won’t keep your eyes from watering. Wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. • Be resistant to punctures. Soles should be made of hard. • Permit enough room for eyeglass es or sunglasses. Leather or a sturdy synthetic material offers the most protection. Many are designed to protect without getting you overheated. as well as protection from heat. To be effective. dirt. • Fits snugly. and pebbles thrown up from the vehicles ahead. If you don’t have to deal with these types of problems. loose padding or frayed straps. debris. if needed.• Has the DOT lettering on the back of the helmet for your safety. Tuck in laces so they won’t catch on your motorcycle. rain. Nei ther will eyeglasses or sunglasses. and they might blow off when you turn your head. A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles. Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other time when little light is available. even on summer days. They should fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind. it’s likely to fly off your head before it gets a chance to protect you. to reduce fogging. if you are involved in a crash. so it does not blow off. Eye and Face Protection Aplastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a crash. Your -8 .
brake light. as well as protect you from injury. • Know the gear pattern. All controls react a little differently. • Ride very cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. • A horn and two mirrors. and engine cut-off switch. and turn signals. Your motorcycle should not be one of them. • Be familiar with the motorcycle controls. fuel-supply valve. • Avoid add-ons and modifications that make your motorcycle harder to handle. your clothes should keep you warm and dry. To make sure that your motorcycle won’t let you down: • Start with the right motorcycle for you. If something is wrong with the motorcycle. Riding for long periods in cold weather can cause severe chill and fatigue. you’ll want to find out about it before you get in traffic. Your feet should reach the ground while you are seated on the motorcycle. In cold or wet weather. horn. and leave extra room for stopping. headlight switch. You cannot control a motorcycle well if you are numb. • Find out where everything is. Check Your Motorcycle A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. clutch and brakes a few times before you start riding. Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls Be completely familiar with the motorcycle before you take it out on the street. and waist. • Keep it in safe riding condition between rides. -9 . At minimum. take turns more slowly. Good-quality rain suits designed for motorcycle riding resist tearing apart or ballooning up at high speeds. • Front and rear brakes. Accelerate gently. A winter jacket should resist wind and fit snugly at the neck. If you use an unfamiliar motorcycle: • Make all the checks you would on your own motorcycle. • Read the owner’s manual first. make sure your motorcycle “fits” you. Work the throttle. • Check the motorcycle before every ride. You should be able to find them without having to look for them. The Right Motorcycle First. particularly the turn signals. wrists. your street-legal mo torcycle must have: • Tires with sufficient tread for safe operation.gloves should be made of leather or similar durable material. Make the following checks before every ride: knoW your motorcycle There are many things on the high way that can cause you trouble. taillight. • Headlight.
The clutch should feel tight and smooth. you can’t be sure that others will see you or yield the right . Make sure all lights work properly. Get familiar with any motorcycle that is new to you. At a minimum. In fact.10 . Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem. • Turn Signals—Turn on both right and left turn signals. ride extra carefully on any motorcycle that is new or unfamiliar to you. and fluids. (No matter how experienced you may be. It is up to you to keep from being the cause of. The ability to be aware. knoW your responsiBilities “Accident” implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence. There is rarely a single cause of any crash. • Brakes—Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. or an unprepared participant in. • Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. make critical decisions.) Re member that more than half of all crashes occur on motorcycles ridden by riders with less than six months experience. check the following items at least once a week: Wheels. a mirror may show the edge of your arm or shoulder—but it’s the road behind and to the side that is most important.• Tires—Check the air pressure. and tread. The throttle should snap back when you let go. Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak. and carry them out sepa rates responsible riders from all the rest. • Brake Light—Try both brake controls and make sure each one turns on the brake light. cables. As a rider. Make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied. most people involved in a crash can usually claim some responsibility for what takes place. Test your switch to make sure both high and low beams work. general wear. • Horn—Make sure the horn works. that is not the case. In addition to the checks before ev ery trip. • Headlights and Taillight— Check them both. check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly. preferably in a controlled area. fasteners. complete the following checks be fore starting out: • ClutchandThrottle—Make sure they work smoothly. Adjust each mirror so you can see the lane behind and as much as possible of the lane next to you. Blame doesn’t matter when some one is injured in a crash. Most often in traffic. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. Crashes are fairly common among new riders. When properly adjusted. Once you are on the motorcycle. • Mirrors—Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting. any crash.
• Feet—Keep your feet firmly on the footpegs for balance. Look at least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. This allows you to use the proper muscles for precision steering. Also. Remain alert and know how to carry out proper crash-avoidance skills. Start with your right wrist flat so you won’t accidentally use too much throttle. Shift down through thegears with the clutch as you slow or stop. • Scan your path of travel. use your headlight. Don’t drag your feet or you could be injured and lose control of the motorcycle. turn ing. passing. or balance. • Be prepared to act. • Communicate your intentions. When riding downhill or shift Basic vehicle control Body Position To control a motorcycle well: • Posture—Sit so you can use your arms to steer the motorcycle rather than to hold yourself up.of way. Shifting Gears There is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle to pick up speed smoothly. • Knees—Keep your knees against the gas tank to help with your bal ance as you turn the motorcycle. holding the handlegrips. and lane position. adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your elbows. Learning to use the gears when downshifting. Wear proper clothing. • Seat—Sit far enough forward so your arms are slightly bent when . speed. Also. lane sharing. • Hands—Hold the handlegrips firmly. being fol lowed. and ride in the best lane position to see and be seen. • Maintain an adequate space cushion. You learn this only through practice and by knowing your abilities and riding within them. Remain in first gear while stopped so you can move out quickly if needed. Allow yourself enough space when following. don’t point your toes downward—they may get caught between the road and the footpegs. riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities This manual cannot teach you how to control direction. • Identify and separate multiple hazards. Keep your feet near the controls. Ride slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear or the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel may skid.11 . and being passed. or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation. brake light. Use the proper signals. Bending your arms permits you to press on the handlebars without having to stretch. To reduce the chances of a crash: • Be visible.
Braking Your motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rear wheel. • If you know the technique. • Some motorcycles have inte grated braking systems that link the front and rear brakes together when you apply the rear brake pedal. However. The front brake is safe to use when you use it properly. Slow—Reduce your speed before the turn by closing the throttle and. Work toward a smooth. To lean the motorcycle. Approach turns and curves with caution.ing into first gear you may need to slow to downshift safely. Look—Look through the turn to where you want to go. Use four steps for better control: 1. sometimes you may need to shift while in the turn. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear brake can cause the brakes to lock and result in control problems. if necessary. Using both brakes for “normal” stops permits you to develop the proper habit and skill of using both brakes prop erly. using the front brake incorrectly on a slippery surface may be hazardous. not your shoulders. Remember to shift smoothly because a sudden change in power to the rear wheel can cause a skid. using both brakes in a turn is possible. Squeeze the front brake and press down on the rear brake. never “grab” it. they overreact and brake too hard causing a skid and loss of control.12 . Use caution and squeeze the brake lever. and keep your eyes level with the horizon. Use both brakes at the same time. . press on the handlegrip in the di rection of the turn. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the motorcycle to lean more. A skid can occur if you apply too much brake. although it should be done very carefully. Press—To turn. The front brake is more powerful and can provide at least three-quarters of your total stopping power. the motorcycle must lean. When they can’t hold the turn. they end up cross ing into another lane of traffic or going off the road. 2. applying both brakes. REMEMBER: • Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. When you lean the motorcycle. Press left—lean left—go left.) Turning Riders often try to take curves or turns too fast. some of the traction is used for cornering and less traction is available for stopping. (Consult your owner’s manual. even clutch release especially when downshifting. It is best to change gears before start ing a turn. Turn only your head. Press right—lean right—go right. Or. which you may need in an emergency. 3. Also.
Lane Positions In some ways the size of the motor cycle can work to your advantage. In slow tight turns. This will help keep the motorcycle stable. Maintain steady speed or accel erate gradually through the turn. • Help you avoid wind blasts from other vehicles. keeping your Distance The best protection you can have is distance—a “cushion of space”—all around your motorcycle. Unless the road is wet. • Provide an escape route. the rider should keep his/her body straight and only lean the motorcycle. In normal turns. Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel. distance gives you: • Time to react. If vehicles are on both sides of you. Roll—Roll on the throttle through the turn to stabilize suspension.13 . Your lane position should: • Increase your ability to see and be seen. • Communicate your intentions. Position yourself in the lane that allows the most visibility and space around you. the average oily center strip permits adequate traction on which to ride safely. In general. as indicated in the illustration. • Protect your lane from other drivers. The oily strip in the center portion of the lane is usually no more than two feet wide. Avoid riding on oil and grease buildups which are usually found at busy intersections or toll booths. lane positions • Avoid others’ blind spots. Try to travel in the most heavily traveled portion of the traffic lane (path 1 or 3) where other vehicles tires have traveled. Select the appropriate lane position to maximize your space cushion and make yourself more visible to others on the road. there is no “best lane position” for riders in which to be seen and to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle. the rider and the motorcycle should lean together at the same angle. • Space to maneuver. If some one else makes a mistake. Change your lane position as traffic situations change. Ride in paths 2 or 3 if vehicles and other potential problems are on your left side. the center of the lane (path 2) is usually the best option. You can ride just to the left or right of the oily strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane.4. .
keep well behind the vehicle ahead of you. Being Followed When you speed up to lose a tail gater. pick out a marker such as a pavement marking or lamp post. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle. When behind a vehicle. So if the traffic situation allows. the driver may see you in his/her side view mirror. A two-second following distance gives you a minimum amount of space to stop or swerve. In traffic. If you ride in the center portion of the lane. or traffic is heavy. To gauge your following distance: • Ahead of you. ride where the driver can see you in his/her rearview mirror. Normally. If you ride in the left or right portion of the lane. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. you only end up with someone tailgating you at a higher speed. When you are stopped. or you cannot see through the vehicle ahead. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. count off the seconds: “one-thousand-one. If you can’t do this. or someone may squeeze in front of you. You will need a larger space cushion if your motorcycle takes longer than normal to stop. This will make it easier to get out of the way if a driver behind you is traveling too quickly or the vehicle ahead starts to back up. • When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker.” • If you reach the marker before you reach “two. However. if the driver ahead stops suddenly. It also gives you a better view of potholes and other road hazards. . visibility is more critical. But re member that most drivers don’t look at their side view mirrors as often as they check the rearview mirror. your im age should be in the middle of the driver’s rearview mirror—where he/ she is more likely to see you. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards. one-thou sand-two.Following Another Vehicle “Following too closely” (tailgat ing) could be a factor in crashes involving motorcyclists. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars. But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. the center lane position is usually the best place for you to be seen by the driver ahead and to prevent lane sharing by others.” you are following too closely. you should maintain a two-second following distance.14 . Open up a threesecond or more following distance when the pavement is slippery.
Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane. bumper-to-bumper traffic. 3. A car could turn suddenly or change lanes. or a hand could come out of a window. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. Drivers are most tempted to do this: • In heavy. a door could open. Select a lane posi tion that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. stay in the center portion of your lane. Remember.15 . Lane Sharing Cars and motorcycles each need a full lane to operate safely. Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable. a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. • When you are preparing to turn at an intersection. and only where permitted. 4. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation. Avoid being hit by: • The othervehicle—Aslight mis take by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. When safe. Ride in the left portion of your lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. . move into the left lane and accelerate. Discourage lane sharing by others. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. passing must be com pleted within posted speed limits. Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible.Passing 1. Signal and check for oncoming traffic. • Extended mirrors—Some driv ers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. • When they want to pass you. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. Then cancel your turn signal. 2. You have more room for error if you are in the middle por tion of the lane when hit by this blast than if you are on either the left or right portions of the lane. • When you are moving into an exit lane or leaving a highway. Keep a center position whenever drivers might be tempted to squeeze by you. Lane sharing is not safe. It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early.
Merging Cars Drivers on an entrance ramp may not see you on the highway. BlinD spots merging search. anD execute (see) Experienced riders remain aware of what is going on around them. Also. Give them plenty of room. a three-step process for making appropriate judgments and applying them correctly in different traffic situations. and behind to help you avoid poten tial hazards. adjust your speed to open up space for the merging driver. Change to another lane if one is open. Fo cus even more on finding potential escape routes in or around intersec tions. How you search and how much time and space you have. and Execute. Search Actively search ahead. . They improve their riding strategy by using SEE. The driver could change lanes without warning. Cars Alongside Do not ride next to passenger ve hicles or trucks in other lanes if you don’t have to because you might be in the driver’s blind spot. or school and construction zones. If there is no room for a lane change. to the sides.16 . shopping areas. Speed up or drop back to find a place clear of traffic on both sides. can eliminate or reduce harm. evaluate. Evaluate. vehicles in the next lane can block your escape if you come upon danger in your own lane. SEE stands for: Search.
Execute Carry out your decision. such as intersec tions. shopping areas. stopping. It can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on a residential street. bridges. intersections The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. • Hazardous road conditions. An intersection is any where traffic may cross your path. warning signs. Think about your time and space requirements in order to maintain a margin of safety. Decision-making becomes more complex with three or more hazards. or slowing. Vehicles that turn left in front of you. To create more space and minimize harm from any hazard: • Communicate your presence with lights and/or your horn. Apply the old saying “one step at a time” to handle two or more hazards. guardrails. or behind. • Adjust your speed by accelerating.17 . or school and construction zones. and cars on large intersections . Then deal with them one at a time as single hazards. • Vehicles and other traffic may move into your path and increase the likelihood of a crash. • Road and surface characteristics such as potholes. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the hazards. right.Search for factors such as: • Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you. and pavement markings will help you evaluate circumstances ahead. • Traffic coming from either the left. You must leave yourself time to react if an emer gency arises. • Adjust your lane position and/ or direction of travel. Adjust your speed so you can deal with each hazard separately. In high-risk areas. cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce your reac tion time. Over one-half of motorcycle/ passenger vehicle crashes are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of way. • Traffic control devices such as traffic signals. including those illegally turning left from the wrong lane. telephone poles and trees won’t move into your path but may influence your riding strategy. Anticipate potential problems and have a plan to reduce risks. regulatory signs. Evaluate Think about how hazards can create risks for you.
If oncoming traffic is present. stay toward the left portion of your lane. Then edge forward and stop again.18 . Too often. From that position. Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. you can avoid problems caused by doors opening. move away from vehicles preparing to turn. but to stay out of it. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides you with the best view of oncoming traffic. . Do not change speed or position radi cally. select a lane position that increases your visibility to the driver. it is usually best to remain in the center portion of the lane to maximize your space cushion. Your use of SEE at intersections is critical. If a vehicle can enter your path. After en tering the intersection. In this picture the rider has moved to the left portion of the lane—away fromthe parked car—so the driver on the cross street can see him/her as soon as possible. or bushes to see if anything is coming. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. Never count on “eye contact” as a sign that a driver will yield to you. lean your body forward and look around buildings. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking.The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. parked cars. assume that it will. Blind Intersections When you approach a blind intersec tion. just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane. There are no guarantees that others will see you. stop there first. or people step ping from between cars. This way. move to the portion of the lane that brings you into another driver’s field of vision at the earliest possible moment. a driver can look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to “see” him/her. As you approach an intersection. drivers getting out of cars. BlinD intersection Passing Parked Cars When passing parked cars. Maintain a space cushion around your motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. are the biggest dangers. Good riders are always “looking for trouble”—not to get into it. If you have a stop sign or stop line.side streets that pull into your lane.
Even if the driver looks. blocking the whole roadway and leaving you with no place to go. you aren’t necessarily safe. they are wrong. Smaller vehicles appear farther away and seem to be traveling slower than they actually are. Sound your horn and continue with caution. Even if a driver does see you coming. two-wheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to them. it’s hard to see something you are not looking for.19 . slow down and get the driver’s attention. Also. he/she may fail to see you. Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone to enter. thinking they have plenty of time. It is common for drivers to pull out in front of motorcyclists. Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous. the driver might enter your path.parkeD cars Parking at the Roadside Park at a 90° angle to the curb with the rear wheel touching the curb. driv ers often say that they never saw the motorcycle. In crashes with motorcyclists. . and most drivers are not looking for motorcycles. they are looking through the skinny. a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a passenger vehicle’s. They may cut you off entirely. More likely. Since you can’t tell what a driver will do. Too often. In either event. From ahead or behind. parking at curBs increasing visiBility A bigger problem can occur if a driver pulls away from the curb without checking for traffic behind.
Re flective material can also be a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind. due to a rider’s added vulnerability. Use your turn signals even when you think no one else is around. Bright orange. Turn Signals The turn signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. However. Clothing Most crashes occur in broad day light. Reflective material on a vest and on the sides of the helmet will help drivers see you from the side. you can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize you and your motorcycle. it is best to signal at least five seconds before changing lanes. Use them anytime you plan to change lanes or turn. At highway speeds. turn signals are even LEFT TURN RIGHT TURN SLOW or STOP more important. They tell others what you plan to do. Using your high beam dur ing the day and at night increases the chances that oncoming drivers will see you. a motorcycle with its light on is twice as likely to be noticed. or green jackets or vests are the best for being seen. Signal your left or right turn during the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point. Headlight The best way to help others see your motorcycle is to always keep the headlight on. Wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your chances of being seen. When it is foggy. Use your high beam if it is legal and safe to do so. Your turn signals also signals .20 .However. your body is half of the visible surface area of the rider/motorcycle unit. use the low beam. Brightly colored helmets can also help others see you. Studies show that during the day. yellow. Remember. red.
Brake Light Your motorcycle’s brake light is usually not as noticeable as a vehi cle’s—especially when the taillight is on. These mirrors provide a wider view of the road behind than flat mirrors. For example. Using Your Mirrors While it’s most important to know what’s happening ahead. Make sure no one is about to pass you. use hand signals. Once you turn. • Forming a mental image of how far away it is. If you are being tailgated. If the situation permits. be sure to turn them off or a driver may pull directly into your path. . The driver behind you may not expect you to slow. Traf fic conditions change quickly. It is especially important to flash your brake light before you slow: • For a tight. • Where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an alley). he could be on top of you before he sees you. turning around and looking to see how close you came. When you enter a freeway. If the driver isn’t paying attention. you can get familiar with them by: • Picking out a parked car in your mirror (while you are stopped). drivers approaching from behind are more likely to see your turn signal blinking and make room for you. • Before you change lanes. thinking you plan to turn again. Using your turn signals before each turn reduces confusion and frustra tion for the traffic around you.21 . you must know what is going on behind you. • Before you slow down. If you are not used to convex mirrors. In order to make safe decisions about how to handle trouble ahead. They also make cars seem farther away than they really are. you can’t ignore situations behind you. Watch cars coming up from behind. Make a special point of using your mirrors: • When you are stopped at an intersection. • Practicing with your mirrors until you become a good judge of distance. • Then. or may be unsure about where you will slow. Frequent mirror checks should be part of your normal searching rou tine. Some motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. If bright sun light makes your turn signal lights hard to see. it’s a good idea to flash your brake light before you slow. you signal a turn and the driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection. help others notice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. rather than at a nearer driveway. fast turn off a highspeed highway.make you easier to see.
Head Checks Checking your mirrors is not enough. Frequent head checks should be part of your normal scanning routine. Motorcycles have “blind spots” just like other vehicles. can you be fully prepared to deal with it. Only by knowing what is happening all around. • A driver is seated in a parked car ahead. It is a good idea to give a quick beep before passing anyone that may move into your lane. A driver in the distant lane may drive into the same space you plan to take. Ride even slower than you would during the day—particularly on roads you don’t know well. • Increase Distance. Before you change lanes. In an emergency. Picking your motorcycle’s headlight or taillight out of the other lights is not easy for drivers. On a road with several lanes. Other strategies may be appropriate along with the horn. Distances are harder to judge at night than during the day. • Someone is in the street riding a bicycle or walking. This in creases your chances of avoiding a hazard. press the horn but ton loud and long. Remember that a motorcycle’s horn isn’t as loud as a car’s. so use it.22 . To make up for this. Here are some situations: • A driver in the lane next to you is driving too closely to the vehicle ahead and may want to pass. you should: • Reduce Your Speed. check the far lane and the one next to you. BlinD spots Horn Be ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. Be ready to stop or swerve away from the danger. but don’t rely on it.• Allowing extra distance before you change lanes. Riding at Night At night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts . turn your head and check that lane for other vehicles.
to determine how far away an object is and how fast it is com ing. The front brake can provide almost three-quarters of your stopping power. Studies show that most crashes involved riders who: • Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear. Change to the portion of the lane that helps you see. you can keep it locked until you have completely stopped. press down on the rear brake. you can control the motor cycle on a straightaway if it is upright and going in a straight line. The head lights of the car ahead can give you a better view of the road than your high beam. and keep an adequate space cushion. As you slow. there will be times when you find yourself in a tight spot. apply both brakes at the same time. be seen. NOTE: Even with a locked rear wheel. Taillights bounc ing up and down can alert you to bumps or rough pavement. Always use both brakes at the same time to stop. If the front wheel locks. Quick Stops To stop quickly. • Use Your High Beam. • Did not separate braking from swerving or did not choose to swerve when it was appropri ate. apply the brakes lightly and reduce the throttle. crash avoiDance No matter how careful you are. If you accidentally lock the rear brake on a good traction surface. • Use the Car Ahead. Be visible. Two skills critical in avoiding a crash are knowing when and how to stop or swerve. If you must stop quickly while turning or riding a curve. Don’t be shy about using the front brake. Get all the light you can. Squeeze the brake lever firmly with continuing steady pressure.23 . These contrasts are missing or distorted at night. release the front brake immediately and then reapply it firmly. You can’t always stop quickly to avoid an obstacle. If you must brake while lean ing. it may not always be possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. Your chances of getting out safely depend on your ability to react quickly and properly. the best technique is to straighten the motor cycle first and then brake. . Often. Open up a three-second or more following distance. However. Use your high beam whenever you are not following or approaching another vehicle. • Be Flexible about lane position. Allow more distance to pass and be passed. Wear reflective materials when riding at night. You must also be able to swerve around an obstacle. a crash occurs because a rider is not prepared or skilled in crashavoidance maneuvers. but don’t “grab” it either. At the same time.
gradually widens. Keep your body upright and allow the motorcycle to lean in the direc tion of the turn. press the left handlegrip. separate it from swerving. or a rapid shift to the side. gets tighter. you should “straighten” the handlebars. An object might ap pear suddenly in your path or the car ahead might stop abruptly. then sWerve If braking is required. This causes the motorcycle to lean quickly.reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motor cycle is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. Then in the last few feet of stopping. To swerve to the right. Every curve is different. A swerve is any sudden change in direction. sWerve. The only way to avoid a crash may be to turn quickly or swerve around it. The sharper the turn(s). Let the motorcycle move underneath you. then press the right to recover. Cornering A primary cause of single-vehicle crashes is motorcyclists running wide in a curve or turn and col liding with the roadway or a fixed object. To swerve.24 . or involves multiple turns. press right. It can be two quick turns. then Brake Brake. . the more the motorcycle must lean. even if you use both brakes properly. apply a small amount of hand pres sure to the handlegrip on the side of your intended direction of escape. The motorcycle should now be straight up and in balance. To swerve to the left. Brake before or after—never while swerving. Make your escape route the target of your vision. Swerving or Turning Quickly Sometimesyou may not have enough room to stop. Press on the opposite handlegrip once you clear the obstacle and are ready to return to your original direction of travel. Be alert to whether a curve remains constant. then left. Keep your knees against the tank and your feet solidly on the pegs.
move to the outside to exit. Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. hanDling Dangerous surfaces Your chance of falling or being in volved in a crash increases whenever you ride across: • Uneven surfaces or obstacles. and as you pass the center. road conditions. move toward the inside of the curve. • Slippery surfaces.Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits. start at the outside of a curve to increase your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. and curve of the road. As you turn.25 . This allows you to see approaching traffic as soon as possible. If there is no traffic. Change your lane position based on traffic. Another choice is to move to the center of your lane before entering a curve and stay there until you exit. constant curves multiple curves Decreasing curves WiDening curves . You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center line or debris blocking part of your lane.
and manhole covers. When it starts to rain. Often. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up. When slippery. if you must go over the obstacle. even on a slippery surface. or small pieces of highway trash. Approach it at as close to a 90° angle as possible. Look where you want to go to control your path of travel. broken pavement. The front brake is still effective. It is especially important to reduce speed before entering wet curves. Any sud den change in speed or direction can cause a skid. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel.• Railroad tracks or pavement seams. Avoid obstacles by slowing or going around them. and ice. depending on traffic and other road conditions as well.26 . snow. • Use Both Brakes. especially when wet. potholes. the left tire track will be the best lane position. Remember to use gentle pressure on the rear brake. Slow down before you get to a slippery sur face to reduce your chances of skidding. you should: • Slow down as much as possible before contact. particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil washes to the side of the road. Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road. • Avoid Sudden Moves. or brake. roll on the throttle slightly to lighten the front end. • Lane markings. However. • Be Cautious of the Edge of the Road. pull off the road and check your tires and rims for damage before riding any farther. your motorcycle needs more distance to stop. espe . Surfaces with poor traction include: • Wet pavement. You may slip and fall. steel plates. turn. shift gears. Slippery Surfaces Motorcycles handle better on sur faces with good traction. • Rise slightly off the seat with your weight on the footpegs to absorb the shock with your knees and elbows and avoid being thrown off the motorcycle. • Grooves and gratings. • Just before contact. ride in a vehicle’s tire tracks. • RememberThat the Center of a Lane Can be Hazardous When Wet. • Gravel roads or where sand and gravel collect. • Mud. first determine if it’s possible. • Watch For Oil Spots when you put your foot down to stop or park. Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles Watch for uneven surfaces such as bumps. If you have to ride over the obstacle. • Make sure the motorcycle is straight. To ride safely on slippery surfaces: • Reduce Speed . If you ride over an object.
cially on curves and ramps leading to and from highways. Patches of ice tend to develop in low or shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses. If you can’t avoid an icy or snowy surface. Then. make a quick. Relax and maintain a steady speed and ride straight across. Wet leaves are just as slippery as wet road surfaces. Railroad or Trolley Tracks and Pavement Seams Usually it is safer to ride straight within your lane to cross tracks. “wandering” feeling is generally not hazardous. ruts. squeeze the clutch and coast. keep your motorcycle straight up and proceed as slowly as possible. crossing tracks-right crossing tracks-Wrong Grooves and Gratings Riding over rain grooves or bridge gratings may cause your motorcycle to weave. If possible. • RememberRain Dries and Snow Melts Faster on Some Sections of a Road than on others. consider letting your feet skim along the surface. Edging across could catch your tires and throw you off balance. This uneasy. or travel at a walking pace. Crossing at an angle forces riders to zigzag grate crossing-Wrong grate crossing-right . Turning to take tracks head-on (at a 90° angle) can be more dangerous because your path may carry you into another lane of traffic. or pavement seams to cross at an angle of at least 45°. sharp turn. Be sure to keep off the brakes. move far enough away from tracks.27 . you can catch yourself. Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. If the motorcycle starts to fall. Ride on the least slippery portion of the lane and reduce your speed. If you encounter a large surface so slippery that you must coast. For track and road seams that run parallel to your course. Attempting this maneuver at anything other than the slowest of speeds could prove hazardous.
Tire Failure You will seldom hear a tire go flat. unsuitable ac cessories. and stop. After you have stopped. squeeze the clutch. You have to steer well to keep your balance. spring pre-load. ease off the throttle. Stuck Throttle Twist the throttle back and forth several times.to stay in the lane. Make sure the tire pres sure. In dealing with any mechanical prob lem. if you are sure which one it is. it may be a tire failure. • If braking is required. and keep a straight course. shift it. immediately operate the engine cut-off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. If you are carrying a heavy load. Make certain the throttle works freely before you start rid ing again. though engine noise may not immediately decline. If the front tire goes flat. Stop riding and check the tires as soon as possible. If one of your tires suddenly loses air. this may free it. check the throttle cable carefully to find the trouble. If the motorcycle starts handling differently. gradually apply the brake of the tire that isn’t flat.” Afront-wheel flat is particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. react quickly to keep your balance.28 . Once the motorcycle is “under control. You must be able to tell from the way the motorcycle reacts if you have tire failure. Most wobbles can be traced to improper loading. The zigzag is far more hazardous than the wandering feeling. Make sure windshields and fairings are mounted properly. or incorrect tire pressure. the back of the motorcycle may jerk or sway from side to side. . mechanical proBlems You can find yourself in an emer gency the moment something goes wrong with your motorcycle. If you can’t lighten the load. and dampers are at the recommended settings for that much weight. Center the weight lower and farther forward on the motorcycle.” leave the road and stop. air shocks. If the throttle stays stuck. Wobble A “wobble” occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start to shake from side to side at any speed. the steering will feel “heavy. • When the motorcycle slows. If the rear tire goes flat. ride to the side of the road. This will remove power from the rear wheel. take into account the road and traffic conditions you face. Here are some guidelines that can help you handle mechanical problems safely. If the throttle cable is stuck. If either tire goes flat while riding: • Hold the handlegrips firmly. lighten it.
accelerate away and leave the animal behind. Pull off the road and stop. Keep control of your motorcycle. Chain Problems A chain that slips or breaks while you’re riding could lock the rear wheel and cause your motorcycle to skid. If the chain slips when you try to speed up or ride uphill. misaligned. braking could make the wobble worse. but don’t fight the wobble. Do not apply the brakes. If you are wearing face protection. Check the chain and sprockets. the effect is the same as a locked rear wheel. Chain slippage or break age can be avoided by proper maintenance. Tightening the chain may help. add oil as soon as possible or the engine will seize. a front wheel that is bent. the sprockets.Check for poorly adjusted steering. As you approach it. cigarettes thrown from vehicles. If none of these are the cause. or pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. If the engine’s moving parts can’t move smoothly against each other. Replace the chain. Check the oil. For larger animals (deer. or out of balance. pull off the road. worn steering parts. remain in your lane. If needed. . if needed. • Leave the road as soon as you can to fix the problem. If you are chased. Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. however. Close the throttle and brake to a stop. • Close the throttle gradually to slow down. Hitting something small is less dangerous to you than hitting something big—like a car. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengage the en gine from the rear wheel. If you are in traffic. the engine overheats. flying oBjects From time to time riders are struck by insects. Trying to “accelerate out of a wob ble” will only make the motorcycle more unstable. • Move your weight as far forward and down as possible.29 . downshift and approach the animal slowly. have the motorcycle thoroughly checked by a qualified professional. Engine Seizure When the engine “locks” or “freez es” it is usually low on oil. elk. When this happens. Instead: • Grip the handlebars firmly. Don’t kick at an animal. or both before rid ing again. cattle) brake and prepare to stop—they are unpredictable. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or a change in the engine’s sound. Let the engine cool before restarting. animals Do everything you safely can do to avoid hitting an animal. loose wheel bearings or spokes. and swing arm bearings. • Slippage. • Breakage—You’ll notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel.
• Pull off the road.) While your passenger sits on the getting off the roaD If you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or just to rest for a while). • Instruct the passenger before you start. Without face protection. or mouth. face. Give a clear signal that you will be slowing and changing direction. Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down.30 . speeds up. Equipment To carry passengers safely: • E q u i p a n d a d j u s t y o u r motorcycle to carry passengers. keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. too. • Signal. Before taking a passenger or a heavy load on the street. be sure you: • Check the roadside. You should not sit any farther forward than you usually do. an object could hit you in the eye. and slows down. carrying passengers anD cargo Only experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. Loose and sloped shoulders can make setting the side or center stand difficult.it might get smeared or cracked. Equipment should include: • Aproper seat large enough to hold both of you without crowding. (Check your owner’s manual for appropriate settings. You will probably need to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger. Firm footing prevents your passenger from falling off and pulling you off. It can be very hard to see a motorcycle by the side of the road. loose sand. Check your mirror and make a head check before you take any action. • Park carefully. When safe. If it is soft grass. practice away from traffic. Make sure the roadside is firm enough to ride on. Get as far off the road as you can. making it difficult to see. Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. pull off the road and repair the damage. • Adjust your riding technique for the added weight. Whatever happens. • Protective equipment should be the same protective gear recom mended for operators. The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles. You don’t want someone else leaving the road at the same place you are. . or if you’re just not sure about it. slow way down before you turn onto it. • Footrests for the passenger. balances.
The heavier your passenger. • Hold firmly to your waist. Small loads can be carried safely. Carrying Loads Most motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. even when stopped. or riding over bumps. • Keep the Load Forward. Riding With Passengers Your motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger. Turn your head slightly to make yourself understood. provide complete instructions before you start. Tell your passenger to: • Get on the motorcycle only after you have started the engine. or put them in saddle bags. adjust the mirror and headlight according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle.seat with you. . but use caution when loading hard or sharp objects. Tank bags keep loads forward. Instructing Passengers Even if your passenger is a mo torcycle rider. • Wait for larger gaps to cross. • Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you. Place the load over. or merge with traffic. enter. or in front of. but keep your eyes on the road ahead. Also. the rear axle. Warn your passenger of these spe cial conditions: Starting. • Warn that you will make a sud den move. Fasten loads securely. • Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides. or belt. chains. if positioned and fastened properly. • Keep legs away from the muffler(s). corners. It can also cause a wobble. stopping quickly. • Are about to start from a stop. • Keep the Load Low. tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you: • Approach surface problems.31 . or bumps. especially when taking curves. Mounting a load behind the rear axle affects how the mo torcycle turns and brakes. • Stay directly behind you leaning as you lean. Make sure the tank bag does not interfere with handlebars or controls. the longer it will take to slow down and speed up—especially on a light-duty motorcycle. or moving parts. • Begin slowing sooner as you ap proach a stop. • Ride a little slower. turning sharply. • Avoid unnecessary talk or mo tion. Stacking loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the motorcycle’s center of gravity and shifts its balance. • Keep both feet on the pegs. hips.
Let the last rider set the pace. This is the best way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion. Some riders won’t always be hurrying to catch up. wait until you are both stopped. Load saddlebags with about the same weight. Place inexperienced riders behind the leader so the more experienced riders can watch them. • Check the Load. If a rider falls be hind. Keep Your Distance Maintain close ranks but at the same time keep a safe distance to allow each rider in the group time and space to react to hazards. Ropes tend to stretch and knots can come loose. • Put Beginners Up Front. A close group takes up less space on the highway.32 .• Distribute the Load Evenly. is easier to see. Never operate directly alongside another rider. Start lane changes early to permit everyone to com plete the lane change safely. . everyone should slow down a little to stay together. There is no place to go to avoid a car or a hazard on the road. • Secure the Load. causing it to lock up and skid. If your group is larger than four or five riders. Keep the Group Together • Plan. • Know the Route. However. To talk. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. • Follow Those Behind. do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. Elastic cords with more than one attachment point per side are more secure. this formation must be done properly. A tight load won’t catch in the wheel or chain. The leader rides in the left portion of the lane while the second rider stays one second behind in the right portion of the group riDing If you ride with others. and is less likely to be separated. Keep the Group Small Small groups make it easier and safer for other drivers to get around them. Make sure everyone knows the route. The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so there is plenty of time for every one to follow. if someone is separated he/she won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. permitting the load to shift or fall. divide it into two or more smaller groups. Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bun gee cords or nets). • Don’t Pair Up. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side. A small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Stop and check the load often to make sure it has not worked loose or moved. Then. Plan frequent stops on long rides. • Staggered Formation.
behind. It encourages the second rider to pass and return to the lane before there is a large enough space cushion in front of the passed vehicle. A third rider rides in the left portion of the lane two seconds behind the first rider. After passing. It’s simpler and safer to wait until there is enough room ahead of the passed vehicle to allow each rider to move into the same position held before the pass. this rider returns to the right portion of the lane and opens up room for the next rider. – First. After passing. Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. The fourth rider keeps a two-second distance behind the second rider. – After the first rider passes safely. . This is not a good idea. This for mation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from others ahead. Move into a single-file formation when riding curves. – Passing in formation. – Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right portion of the lane after passing a vehicle. and to the sides.33 . turning. the leader returns to the left portion of the lane and continues riding at “passing speed” to open room for the next rider. or entering or leaving a highway. the lead rider pulls out and passes when safe.staggereD formation lane. the second rider moves up to the left portion of the lane and watches for a safe chance to pass. • Single-File Formation.
at least one drink will remain in your bloodstream. 5-ounce glass of 12% wine. or have taken medicines or drugs.BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. As little as one alcoholic drink can have a significant effect on your performance. • Your body weight. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road and traffic condi tions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. The faster you drink. These “one drink” equivalents change if you drink ale. But a variety of other factors may also influence the level of alcohol retained. malt liquors. the more alco hol accumulates in your body. wine. “One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor (even if mixed with non-alcoholic drinks). The California Driver Handbook has more information. The law is very strict if you are under 21 and drive with a BAC that is 0. more than any other factor. If you drink two drinks in an hour. at the end of that hour. alcohol anD the laW In California. The more alcohol in your blood. a . Skilled riders pay attention to their riding environment and to operating the motorcycle. alcohol can be eliminated in the body at the rate of almost one drink per hour. the greater the degree of impairment. a person 21 years of age or older with a BAC of . sick.01% or more (VC §23136). BlooD alcohol concentration Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is the amount of alcohol in relation to blood in the body. or hard liquor if you are under the age of 21. or a 12 ounce glass of 5% beer. Generally. It doesn’t matter how sober you may look or act. mak ing good judgments. IMPORTANT: You cannot le gally purchase beer. A breath or blood test is what usually determines whether you are riding legally or illegally. or fortified wines or if you drink on an empty stomach.08% or above is considered intoxicated. affect your ability to think clearly and to ride safely. • How fast you drink. Law enforcement is being stepped up across the country in response to the senseless deaths and injuries caused by drinking drivers and riders. upset. and executing decisions quickly and skillfully. Your chances of being stopped for riding under the influence of alcohol are increasing.34 . Alcohol and other drugs. are tired. Three factors play a major part in determining BAC: • The amount of alcohol you con sume. identifying potential hazards.
your resistance becomes weaker. Or Don’t Ride. fatigue Riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car. broker. You must make this report within 10 days on the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California (SR1) form. • Limit your distance. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long distances. no matter how slightly. You won’t be able to concentrate on the task at hand. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information. Wind. MotorcYcle iNsUraNce Facts The financial responsibility sec tions of the Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicle owners and operators. Once you start.dmv. or in which anyone. Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fatigue or de pression as they start to wear off. including yourself. . • Protect yourself from the elements. If you. Experi enced riders seldom try to ride more than about six hours a day.35 . The CHPor police will not make this report.gov. especially on a long trip. is injured. • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. including yourself. you must control your riding. cold. This form is also available on DMV’s web site at www. Dress warmly. you (or your insurance agent. Check with your insurance company about your coverage before you buy or ride a motorcycle. and rain make you tire quickly. • Take frequent rest breaks.minimize the risks Minimize the risks of drinking and riding by taking the following steps: Don’t Drink. as an operator. You can get this form from any DMV or CHP office. are involved in an accident which causes more than $750 in property damage to one person. or legal representative) must report the accident to DMV. Fatigue can affect your control of the motorcycle.ca. Avoid riding when tired. Stop and get off the motorcycle at least every two hours. If you haven’t controlled your drinking.
or ten years. • Both that fine and imprison ment. • A fine of not less than $2. • Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail. • Get permission to travel across private lands. or stream banks and lake shores easily scarred by churning wheels.000. • Stay out of designated wilderness areas. or to cut across a switchback.eVaDiNG a Peace oFFicer Any person who willfully flees or attempts to evade a peace officer performing his/her duties is guilty of a misdemeanor punishable by imprisonment in a county jail for not more than one year (VC §2800.S. • Avoid running overyoung trees. six. or regulations from other public land agencies. Forest Service (USFS). • Stay away from wild animals that are rearing young—or suf fering from food shortages. or seven years or in a county jail for not more than one year. The stress uses up their limited energy reserves. treaD liGhtlY! The U. Learn the rules and follow them. five. he/she is subject to imprisonment in a state prison for four.000 nor more than $10.3[a]). and California Department of Parks and Recreation would like you to TREAD LIGHTLY! • Obtain a Travel Map from your local USFS or BLM office. If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (VC §2800. • Travel around meadows.36 . he/she is subject to: • Imprisonment in a state prison for three. • Stay off soft. Respect landowner rights.3[b]). steep hillsides. and grasses—this can damage or kill them. If a person is convicted of killing anyone during the course of a police pursuit (VC §2800.1). wet roads and trails readily torn up by vehicles. Know where the boundaries are. • Obey gate closures and regula tory signs. Vandalism costs tax dollars. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). . shrubs.
Mon.CheCk out these serviCes oNliNe serVice • Renew your driver license and vehicle registration. and driving directions.. and handbooks. • Listen to general information. • Calculate registration fees. • Get field office locations.. • Get forms.. • Make appointments (except commercial driving test). & Fri. hours. Thurs. telePhoNe serVice Call 1-800-921-1117 and use the Automated Voice Recognition System to: • Make appointments (except driving test) • Pay registration renewals or Call 1-800-777-0133 to: • Get forms and publications. brochures. • Find answers to your questions. Tues. • Make an appointment for a driving test – Between 8-5. • Complete a release of liability.37 . • Complete a change of address. . • Take a sample driver license test. – Between 9-5 on Wed. • Order special plates.
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