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Arnold Schwarzenegger, Governor State of California Dale E. Bonner, Secretary Business, Transportation and Housing Agency George Valverde, Director Department of Motor Vehicles
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DisclaiMer ....................................ii Where to Write ...........................ii DMV iNForMatioN .....................1 iNtroDUctioN ..........................2 tWo-Wheel Vehicle oPeratioN ...2
Motorcycles ...................................2 Motor-Driven Cycles ......................2 Motorized Bicycles ........................3 Motorized Scooter .........................3 Keeping Your Distance ................13 Lane Positions ..........................13 Following Another Vehicle ........14 Being Followed ........................14 Passing and Being Passed ......15 Passing.....................................15 Being Passed ...........................15 Lane Sharing ............................16 Merging Cars ...........................16 Cars Alongside .........................16 Search, Evaluate, and Execute (SEE) ..........................17 Search ......................................17 Evaluate ....................................17 Execute.....................................17 Intersections ................................18 Blind Intersections....................18 Passing Parked Cars ................19 Parking at the Roadside ...........20 Increasing Visibility ......................20 Clothing ....................................20 Headlight ..................................20 Turn Signals ..............................21 Brake Light ...............................21 Using Your Mirrors ....................22 Head Checks ...........................22 Horn ..........................................23 Riding at Night .........................23 Collision Avoidance .....................23 Quick Stops ..............................24 Swerving or Turning Quickly ...................................24 Cornering .................................25 Handling Dangerous Surfaces.....26 Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles ..............................26 Slippery Surfaces .....................27 Railroad or Trolley Tracks and Pavement Seams...................28 Grooves and Gratings ..............28 Mechanical Problems ..................28 Tire Failure ................................28 Stuck Throttle ............................29 Wobble .....................................29 Chain Problems ........................30 Engine Seizure .........................30
liceNse reQUireMeNts ..............3
Earning Your License.....................4 Basic Rider Course .......................4 Application Requirements — All Drivers ...................................4 Minors’ M1/M2 Permit Requirements .............................5 Minors’ M1/M2 License Requirements .............................5 Adults’ M1/M2 Permit Requirements .............................5 License Requirements — All Drivers ...................................5 Motorcycle Skills Test ....................6
PrePariNG to riDe ....................7
Wearing the Right Gear.................7 Helmet Use.................................7 Helmet Selection ........................7 Eye and Face Protection ............8 Clothing ......................................8 Know Your Motorcycle ...................9 The Right Motorcycle .................9 Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls.................9 Check Your Motorcycle .............10 Know Your Responsibilities..........10
riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities ....... 11
Basic Vehicle Control ................... 11 Body Position ........................... 11 Shifting Gears........................... 11 Braking .....................................12 Turning ......................................12
Animals .......................................30 Flying Objects..............................30 Getting Off The Road...................30 Carrying Passengers and Cargo ........................................31 Equipment ................................31 Instructing Passengers ............31 Riding With Passengers ...........32 Carrying Loads .........................32 Group Riding ...............................32 Keep the Group Small ..............32 Keep the Group Together .........33 Keep Your Distance ..................33
BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe ............ 34
Blood Alcohol Concentration .......34 Alcohol and the Law ....................35 Minimize the Risks ......................35 Fatigue ........................................35
MotorcYcle iNsUraNce 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.
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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 2010 All rights reserved. This work is protected by U. S. Copyright Law. DMV owns the copyright of this work. Copyright law prohibits the following: (1) reproduction of the copyrighted work; (2) distribution of copies of the copyrighted work; (3) preparation of derivative works based upon the copyrighted work; (4) displaying the copyrighted work publicly; or (5) performing the copyrighted work publicly. 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
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forms.dmv.m. with DMV services. brochures. please call the Office of State Publishing Advertising Department at 1-866-824-0603. on Wednesday. Thursday. and publications. You will need to have the – Get driver license and vehicle Renewal Identification Number registration information. 7 days a received and responded to at this week to: number. DMV iNForMatioN -1- . and sample tests • Senior driver information • Teen driver information • Links to other state and federal agencies • Renew your driver license or vehicle registration with the Renewal Identification Number (RIN) provided on your renewal notice • Call 1-800-777-0133 during normal – Renew your vehicle registration using a check. debit card. Tuesday. to 5 p. but the significant contribution by the advertising sponsors is most appreciated. A few offices offer only driver license or vehicle registration services. The products and services provided by the advertising sponsors are not promoted or endorsed by DMV.gov for: • Field office locations. ment. Go online at www. Advertising sponsorship. – Access DMV’s voice recognition system.m. If you would like to advertise in this publication. – Persons with speech or hearing – Make a driving test appointimpairments can call. and 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. and Friday and from 9 a. – Make an office appointment. 1-800-368-4327 for assistance – Speak to a DMV representative.ca. provided on your billing notice.m.m. toll free. directions. instead of your fees. to 5 p. – Find office locations and • TTY hours. helps defray the printing costs of this publication. on Monday. Only typed • Call 1-800-777-0133 for automated messages from another TTY are service 24 hours a day. or credit business hours to: card. Go online or call the toll-free number below to find the office locations and service options of an office near you.DMV offices are open 8 a. hours.
mopeds. Any person registering a motorcycle is required to obtain a Class M1 or M2 driver license prior to operating the vehicle. 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. The MSF. or motorized bicycle. Minibikes. if required. Portions of this handbook which deal with safe driving practices (rather than traffic laws) were developed initially by the National Public Services Research Institute in cooperation with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF). DMV. and courts follow the full and exact language of the law contained in the California Vehicle Code (CVC). and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) all agree that improved licensing. and similar vehicles may fall within the definition of motorcycle. Study the California Driver Handbook as well as this supplement. they must meet applicable equipment. along with quality motorcycle rider education and increased public awareness. equestrian (horse) trail. remember that it is only a summary of the laws and regulations. motorcycles A motorcycle: • Has a seat or saddle for the rider and is designed to travel on not more than three wheels. tote-goats. registration. motor-driven cycle. motor-Driven cycles A motor-driven cycle is: • A motorcycle with a 149 cc or less engine size. and driver licenses.iNtroDUctioN This handbook supplements the California Driver Handbook concerning traffic laws. or bicycles with a motor attached. motordriven cycles. licensing. When using this handbook. has the potential to reduce the number and severity of motorcycle collisions. trail bikes. If any of these vehicles are operated on a highway. NOTE: You may not operate a motor-driven cycle on a freeway if -2- . California Highway Patrol (CHP). law enforcement. California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP). safe driving rules. Do not ride a moped on a freeway. or recreational 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. and operation requirements. various motorcyclist enthusiast groups. hiking trail. bicycle path or trail. This supplement provides information for both novice and experienced drivers of two-wheel vehicles.
(CVC §406[a]) • A vehicle with pedals and an electric motor (not more than 1.or three-wheeled device. • Are exempt from the motor vehicle financial responsibility. driver license. and a floorboard for standing on when riding. or motorized scooter and all vehicles listed under Class M2. handlebars. – the ability to be powered by human propulsion. and • The options of having: – a driver seat which cannot interfere with the operator’s ability to stand and ride. – a motor producing less than two gross brake horsepower and an automatic transmission. (CVC §406[b]) If you operate a motorized bicycle which meets the definition of CVC §406(b).9) You may ride a moped in a bicycle lane at a reasonable speed. capable of no more than 30 mph on level ground.signs are posted to prohibit motordriven cycle operation.9 of the California Vehicle Code. and equipped with: – fully operative pedals for human propulsion. motor-driven cycle. you: • Must be 16 years of age or older. – an electric motor. and moped plate requirements. • 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. (CVC §12804. or a -3- . Be careful of bicyclists using the lane. liceNse reQUireMeNts California issues the following license classes for two-wheel vehicle operation: • Class M1—You may operate any two-wheel motorcycle. A motorized scooter is defined as any two-wheeled “device” with: • A motor. NOTE: The permit and license requirements in this handbook pertain to two-wheel vehicles and are referenced in Section 12804. motorizeD scooter motorizeD Bicycles There are two definitions of motorized bicycle (moped). with or without pedals for human propulsion. A motorized bicycle is: • A two. • Class M2—You may operate any motorized bicycle. The motorized scooter’s exhaust system must not be modified or altered. moped.000 watts) which cannot be driven at speeds of more than 20 mph on level ground even if assisted by human power. NOTE: A motorized scooter may be driven with any class driver license.
-4- .ca-msp. you must: • Submit a completed DMV application form (DL 44 or DL 44C). several years. • Give a thumb print and signature. and ideas from this handbook. • Pass an eye exam. NOTE: The Class M1/M2 permit does not allow you to carry passengers and you must ride during daylight hours only and not on a freeway. or a motorized scooter.org. Motorcycle law tests and skill tests are required. you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill test. To obtain an instruction permit to operate an M1/M2 vehicle on public roads. You may obtain a Class M1 or M2 license at any DMV office which provides driver license services. Knowledge test questions are based on information. Refer to the California Driver Handbook for basic class driver license requirements. • Pass an additional law test on motorcycle driving rules. This course offers hands-on motorcycle skill training for novice and returning riders. practices. DMV’s licensing exams are designed to be scored objectively. application requirements — all Drivers earning your license Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. 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. CMSP has trained thousands of riders over the past These are the requirements if you already have a basic class driver license. The on-cycle skill test is conducted in either an actual traffic environment or in a controlled off-street area. The DMV motorcycle skills test is waived upon completion of the Basic Rider Course and submission of the Certificate of Completion of Motorcycle Training (DL 389). • 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. NOTE: Class C licensees may operate a motorcycle with a side car attached or a three-wheel motorcycle.bicycle with an attached motor. To obtain your license. For more information you may contact CMSP at 1-877-RIDE411 or visit www. • Have your picture taken. • Pay the required application fee. Basic riDer course Motorcycle applicants are encouraged to enroll in the Basic Rider Course offered by the California Motorcyclist Safety Program (CMSP).
Applicants under 21 years of age are required by law to provide a DL 389. -5- .org. you must: • Complete the application and permit requirements listed above. Motorcycle training courses are located throughout California. NOTE: If you are 21 years of age or older.minors’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 permit. DL 388A. • Complete the application requirements. call 1-877-RIDE-411 or visit www. license requirements — all Drivers minors’ m1/m2 license requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. your insurance cost may be reduced. DL 388. • Be at least 16 years old. • Have your parents’ * signatures on the application form. you must: • Complete the application requirements. ca-msp. The skill test is waived for any person presenting a valid DL 389. If you complete this motorcycle training course and submit a valid DL 389. • Be 18 years of age. OL 237. • Pass a DMV skill test or present a Completion of Motorcycle Training Certificate (DL 389) to waive the skill test. • Pass a road test. you must: • Complete the requirements listed above. Check with your insurance company to see if you qualify for a reduced rate. the knowledge and skills you learn in this motorcycle rider training course may help you avoid a serious injury or a fatal collision. • Provide a Completion of Motorcycle Training certificate (DL 389) from an approved CHP motorcycle rider training course. * The term parents means both custodial parents unless only one parent has custody. aDults’ m1/m2 permit requirements To obtain a Class M1/M2 instruction permit. you can attend a CHP approved motorcycle training course. Additionally. you must: • Be 15 ½ years of age and bring proof you have finished both driver education and driver training. (DL 387. or older. or all legal guardians unless only one legal guardian has custody. To obtain a Class M1/M2 license. For more information and to locate the nearest training site. or OL 238). if you are applying for a Class M1/M2 license only. This motorcycle training course is highly recommended.
then down and end in a smooth stop at the starting point. which include tracking paths (the area within and including the tracking lines): • Serpentine Ride – Beginning on the right of the first cone. • Circle Ride – Ride around the circle twice in a clockwise direction keeping the front wheel within the tracking path. At the end of the tracking path. shifting gears up. At the end of the row of cones you will begin the circle ride. complete a U-turn and return. shifting gears up. -6- . The motorcycle skills test is a pass/fail test. you will weave through a row of five traffic cones.motorcycle skills test Basic vehicle control skills are included in the motorcycle skills test to determine your ability to maneuver in normal traffic situations. You will be asked to demonstrate the following four skills. then down. return to the starting point weaving once more through the row of five cones. You will be asked to identify nine items on your motorcycle before the actual riding portion of the test. begin the circle ride twice in a counterclockwise direction or by turning right into the circle tracking path. • Gear Shift Ride – Ride in a straight path. 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 ability to control the motorcycle through several skills tests. • Slow Ride – Ride slowly between two parallel lines keeping the front tire within the tracking path.
Unsafe Helmet Interior Safe Helmet Interior -7- .S. you get the most protection by making sure the helmet: • Meets U. Here are some facts to consider. All operators and passengers must wear an approved safety helmet when riding on a motorcycle. In any collision. Many collisions result in head or neck injuries with head injuries being far more common. Research shows that head and neck injuries account for a majority of serious and fatal motorcyclist injuries and that with few exceptions. At these speeds. or motorized scooter. motordriven cycle. Helmet Use Collisions can occur—particularly among new riders. you have a far better chance of avoiding serious injury when you wear: • An approved helmet. Before starting any trip. • Wear the right gear. Wearing the right gear When you ride. • An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. Department of Transportation (DOT) and state safety standards. a safe rider makes a point to: • Become familiar with the motorcycle. • Most collisions happen on short trips (less than five miles long) just a few minutes after starting out. Whichever style you choose. Helmet Selection There are two primary types of helmets which provide two different levels of coverage: three-quarter and full face. your gear is “right” if it protects you. No matter what your speed in a collision. • Protective clothing. • Face or eye protection. if you are wearing a helmet you are three times more likely to survive a head injury than if you aren’t wearing one. • Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a collision occurs.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. head and neck injuries are reduced by properly wearing an approved helmet. helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by half. • Check the motorcycle equipment. • Be a responsible rider. motorized bicycle.
• Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. rain. Clothing The right clothing protects you in a collision. cold. but they don’t protect the rest of your face as a face shield does. nor will eyeglasses or sunglasses. • Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to cover your ankles and support them. Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other time when little light is available. dirt. NOTE: The DOT lettering should not be a stick-on label or easily removed. To be effective. loose padding or frayed straps. insects. Goggles protect your eyes. if you are involved in a collision. if needed. so it does not blow off. • Fasten securely. Eye and Face Protection A plastic shatter-resistant face shield can help protect your whole face in a collision. Soles should be made of hard. but still allow you to move freely. It also protects you from wind. • Permit enough room for eyeglasses or sunglasses. A windshield is not a substitute for a face shield or goggles. Wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. durable. • Has no obvious defects such as cracks. all the way around. The heels should be short so they do not catch on rough surfaces. Keep your helmet securely fastened on your head when you ride. • Give a clear view to either side. dust. Tuck in laces so they won’t catch on your motorcycle. Otherwise. Leather or a sturdy synthetic material offers the most protection. you can devote your full attention to the road. even on summer days. It also provides comfort. to reduce fogging.• Has the DOT lettering on the back of the helmet for your safety. slip-resistant material. • Permit air to pass through. 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. Glasses won’t keep your eyes from watering. -8- . debris. • Be resistant to punctures. and pebbles thrown up from the vehicles ahead. and they might blow off when you turn your head. If you don’t have to deal with these types of problems. • Fits snugly. as well as protection from heat. eye or face shield protection must: • Be free of scratches. and the hot and moving parts of the motorcycle. Most windshields will not protect your eyes from the wind. Many are designed to protect without getting you overheated.
• Know the gear pattern. • Be familiar with the motorcycle controls. • Keep it in safe riding condition between rides. Your gloves should be made of leather or similar durable material. knoW your motorcycle There are many things on the highway that can cause you trouble. If you use an unfamiliar motorcycle: • Make all the safety and maintenance checks you would on your own motorcycle. • Avoid add-ons and modifications that make your motorcycle harder to handle. your street-legal motorcycle must have: • Tires with sufficient tread for safe operation. your clothes should keep you warm and dry. At minimum. and engine cut-off switch. The Right Motorcycle First. • Find out where everything is. -9- . fuel-supply valve. Your feet should reach the ground while you are seated on the motorcycle. Riding for long periods in cold weather can cause severe chill and fatigue. horn. Good-quality rain suits designed for motorcycle riding resist tearing apart or ballooning up at high speeds. All controls react a little differently. brake light. headlight switch. and waist. A winter jacket should resist wind and fit snugly at the neck. You should be able to find them without having to look for them. wrists. Work the throttle. and turn signals. • A horn and two mirrors. as well as protect you from injury. Your motorcycle should not be one of them. • Ride very cautiously and be aware of your surroundings. To make sure that your motorcycle won’t let you down: • Start with the right motorcycle for you. • Check the motorcycle before every ride. taillight. Get Familiar with the Motorcycle Controls Be completely familiar with the motorcycle before you take it out on the street. • Read the owner’s manual first.• Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands. and leave extra room for stopping. make sure your motorcycle “fits” you. Accelerate gently. clutch and brakes a few times before you start riding. • Headlight. In cold or wet weather. • Front and rear brakes. You cannot control a motorcycle well if you are numb. particularly the turn signals. take turns more slowly.
In fact. cables. Collisions are fairly common among new riders. Get familiar with any motorcycle that is new to you. • Horn—Make sure the horn works. you’ll want to find out about it before you get in traffic. There . • Brakes—Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem.Check Your Motorcycle A motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. Adjust each mirror so you can see the lane behind and as much as possible of the lane next to you.10 - . check the following items at least once a week: Wheels. Make the following checks before every ride: • Tires—Check the air pressure. Test your switch to make sure both high and low beams work. • Turn Signals—Turn on both right and left turn signals. (No matter how experienced you may be. ride extra carefully on any motorcycle that is new or unfamiliar to you. general wear. When properly adjusted. If something is wrong with the motorcycle. fasteners. • Headlights and Taillight— Check them both. • Fluids—Oil and fluid levels. check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly. The clutch should feel tight and smooth. • Brake Light—Try both brake controls and make sure each one turns on the brake light. and tread.) Remember that more than half of all collisions occur on motorcycles ridden by riders with less than six months experience. The throttle should snap back when you let go. 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. most people involved in a collision can usually claim some responsibility for what takes place. knoW your responsiBilities “Accident” implies an unforeseen event that occurs without anyone’s fault or negligence. In addition to the checks before every trip. Blame doesn’t matter when someone is injured in a collision. and fluids. Once you are on the motorcycle. preferably in a controlled area. Follow the manufacturer’s recommendations. At a minimum. complete the following checks before starting out: • Clutch and Throttle—Make sure they work smoothly. Make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied. Most often in traffic. that is not the case. Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak. Make sure all lights work properly. • Mirrors—Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting.
and lane position. • Be prepared to act. Shifting Gears There is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle to pick up speed smoothly. don’t point your toes downward—they may get caught between the road and the footpegs. To reduce the chances of a collision: • Be visible. 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. any collision. adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your elbows. .11 - . Use the proper signals. make critical decisions. You learn this only through practice and by knowing your abilities and riding within them. being followed. Bending your arms permits you to press on the handlebars without having to stretch. and being passed. Wear proper clothing. passing. Learning to use the gears when downshifting. • Seat—Sit far enough forward so your arms are slightly bent when holding the handlegrips. • Feet—Keep your feet firmly on the footpegs for balance. • Hands—Hold the handlegrips firmly. • Scan your path of travel. turn- riDe WithiN YoUr aBilities This handbook cannot teach you how to control direction. • Knees—Keep your knees against the gas tank to help with your balance as you turn the motorcycle. • Identify and separate multiple hazards. The ability to be aware.is rarely a single cause of any collision. or an unprepared participant in. you can’t be sure that others will see you or yield the right of way. Start with your right wrist flat so you won’t accidentally use too much throttle. Look at least 10 to 15 seconds ahead. Remain alert and know how to carry out proper collision-avoidance skills. brake light. or balance. • Communicate your intentions. Also. Also. As a rider. Don’t drag your feet or you could be injured and lose control of the motorcycle. use your headlight. lane sharing. • Maintain an adequate space cushion. and carry them out separates responsible riders from all the rest. This allows you to use the proper muscles for precision steering. It is up to you to keep from being the cause of. Allow yourself enough space when following. Keep your feet near the controls. speed. and ride in the best lane position to see and be seen.
which you may need in an emergency. or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation. some of the traction is used for cornering and less traction is available for stopping. When riding downhill or shifting into first gear you may need to slow to downshift safely. if necessary. Shift down through the gears with the clutch as you slow or stop. even clutch release especially when downshifting. REMEMBER: • Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. Look—Look through the turn to where you want to go. Remember to shift smoothly because a sudden change in power to the rear wheel can cause a skid. never “grab” it. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear brake can cause the brakes to lock and result in control problems. Or. using both brakes in a turn is possible. It is best to change gears before starting a turn.ing. they end up crossing into another lane of traffic or going off the road. not your shoulders. Slow—Reduce your speed before the turn by closing the throttle and. Use four steps for better control: 1. • If you know the technique. applying both brakes. The front brake is safe to use when you use it properly. A skid can occur if you apply too much brake. Braking Your motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rear wheel. Remain in first gear while stopped so you can move out quickly if needed. 2.) Turning Riders often try to take curves or turns too fast. Using both brakes for “normal” stops permits you to develop the proper habit and skill of using both brakes properly. Turn only your head. Use caution and squeeze the brake lever. using the front brake incorrectly on a slippery surface may be hazardous. Ride slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear or the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel may skid. • Some motorcycles have integrated braking systems that link the front and rear brakes together when you apply the rear brake pedal. Approach turns and curves with caution. The front brake is more powerful and can provide at least three-quarters of your total stopping power. When you lean the motorcycle. However. Work toward a smooth.12 - . When they can’t hold the turn. (Consult your owner’s manual. although it should be done very carefully. sometimes you may need to shift while in the turn. . Squeeze the front brake and press down on the rear brake. Use both brakes at the same time. they overreact and brake too hard causing a skid and loss of control. Also.
the rider and the motorcycle should lean together at the same angle. Press—To turn. Ride in paths 2 or 3 if vehicles and other potential problems are on your left side. • Help you avoid wind blasts from other vehicles. the motorcycle must lean.13 - . Maintain steady speed or accelerate gradually through the turn. Your lane position should: • Increase your ability to see and be seen. distance gives you: • Time to react. • Provide an escape route. there is no “best lane position” for riders in which to be seen and to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle. In normal turns. Change your lane position as traffic situations change. Press left—lean left—go left. press on the handlegrip in the direction of the turn. • Communicate your intentions. If someone else makes a mistake. as indicated in the illustration. Select the appropriate lane position to maximize your space cushion and make yourself more visible to others on the road. 4.and keep your eyes level with the horizon. • Avoid others’ blind spots. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the motorcycle to lean more. If vehicles are on both sides of you. lane positions keeping your Distance The best protection you can have is distance—a “cushion of space”—all around your motorcycle. Lane Positions In some ways the size of the motorcycle can work to your advantage. . To lean the motorcycle. Roll—Roll on the throttle through the turn to stabilize suspension. the rider should keep his/her body straight and only lean the motorcycle. In slow tight turns. • Space to maneuver. Each traffic lane gives a motorcycle three paths of travel. the center of the lane (path 2) is usually the best option. Press right—lean right—go right. In general. 3. Position yourself in the lane that allows the most visibility and space around you. This will help keep the motorcycle stable. • Protect your lane from other drivers.
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. But remember that most drivers don’t look at their side view mirrors as often as they check the rearview mirror. Following Another Vehicle “Following too closely” (tailgating) could be a factor in collisions involving motorcyclists. A two-second following distance gives you a minimum amount of space to stop or swerve. count off the seconds: “one-thousand-one. Avoid riding on oil and grease buildups which are usually found at busy intersections or toll booths. To gauge your following distance: • Ahead of you. Being Followed When you speed up to lose a tailgater.14 - . or you cannot see through the vehicle ahead. • When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead of you passes the marker. It also gives you a better view of potholes and other road hazards.” • If you reach the marker before you reach “two. you only end up with someone tailgating you at a higher speed. you should maintain a two-second following distance. In traffic. So if the traffic situation allows. . Normally. keep well behind the vehicle ahead of you. if the driver ahead stops suddenly. motorcycles need as much distance to stop as cars.The oily strip in the center portion of the lane is usually no more than two feet wide. the driver may see you in his/her side view mirror. When you are stopped. your image should be in the middle of the driver’s rearview mirror—where he/ she is more likely to see you. one-thousand-two. If you ride in the center portion of the lane. Try to travel in the most heavily traveled portion of the traffic lane (path 1 or 3) where other vehicles tires have traveled. Unless the road is wet.” you are following too closely. Open up a threesecond or more following distance when the pavement is slippery. When behind a vehicle. 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. You can ride just to the left or right of the oily strip and still be within the center portion of the traffic lane. pick out a marker such as a pavement marking or lamp post. or traffic is heavy. You will need a larger space cushion if your motorcycle takes longer than normal to stop. If you ride in the left or right portion of the lane. or someone may squeeze in front of you. the average oily center strip permits adequate traction on which to ride safely. ride where the driver can see you in his/her rearview mirror.
Signal again and complete mirror and head checks before returning to your original lane. passing must be completed within posted speed limits. you have at least given yourself and the tailgater more time and space to react in case an emergency develops. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles—They can affect your control. Select a lane position that doesn’t crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane. Ride in the left portion of your lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. Passing 1. You have more room for error if you are in the middle portion of the lane when hit by this blast than if you are on either the left or right portions of the lane. Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passing vehicle. Avoid being hit by: • The other vehicle—A slight mistake by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. Being Passed When you are being passed from behind or by an oncoming vehicle. 2. But if the tailgater doesn’t pass. Ride through the driver’s blind spot as quickly as possible. stay in the center portion of your lane. • Extended mirrors—Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. • Objects thrown from windows—Even if the driver knows you are there. Be sure other drivers see you and that you see potential hazards. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind. . However. It might invite the other driver to move back into your lane too early. This will also encourage the tailgater to pass. Signal and check for oncoming traffic. visibility is more critical. Riding any closer could put you in a hazardous situation. and only where permitted.A better way to handle tailgaters is to allow them to pass you. move into the left lane and accelerate. a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. slow down and open up extra space ahead of you which will allow space for both you and the tailgater to stop. Remember. When safe. 3. 4. Passing and Being Passed Passing and being passed by a larger vehicle is not much different than with a smaller passenger vehicle.15 - . If you can’t do this. Then cancel your turn signal.
Change to another lane if one is open. Merging Cars Drivers on an entrance ramp may not see you on the highway. • When you are preparing to turn at an intersection. Keep a center position whenever drivers might be tempted to squeeze by you. If there is no room for a lane change. Drivers are most tempted to do this: • In heavy. Riding between rows of stopped or moving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable. adjust your speed to open up space for the merging driver.Lane Sharing Cars and motorcycles each need a full lane to operate safely. Give them plenty of room. The driver could change lanes without warning. A car could turn suddenly or change lanes. BlinD spots . a door could open. or a hand could come out of a window.16 - . bumper-to-bumper traffic. • When you are moving into an exit lane or leaving a highway. Discourage lane sharing by others. • When they want to pass you. merging Cars Alongside Do not ride next to passenger vehicles or trucks in other lanes if you don’t have to because you might be in the driver’s blind spot. Lane sharing is not safe.
• Road and surface characteristics such as potholes. search. • Traffic control devices such as traffic signals. shopping areas. To create more space and minimize harm from any hazard: • Communicate your presence with lights and/or your horn. to the sides. and behind to help you avoid potential hazards. • Adjust your lane position and/ or direction of travel. Evaluate. Speed up or drop back to find a place clear of traffic on both sides. and pavement markings will help you evaluate circumstances ahead. How you search and how much time and space you have. and Execute. Anticipate potential problems and have a plan to reduce risks. Execute Carry out your decision. Adjust your speed so you can deal with each hazard separately. Evaluate Think about how hazards can create risks for you. You must leave yourself time to react if an emergency arises. Search for factors such as: • Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you. Think about your time and space requirements in order to maintain a margin of safety. Apply the old saying “one step at a time” to handle two or more hazards. stopping. or slowing. telephone poles and trees won’t move into your path but may influence your riding strategy. or school and construction zones. right.Also. Search Actively search ahead. can eliminate or reduce harm. vehicles in the next lane can block your escape if you come upon danger in your own lane. bridges. warning signs. Focus even more on finding potential escape routes in or around intersections. They improve their riding strategy by using SEE. anD execute (see) Experienced riders remain aware of what is going on around them. regulatory signs. SEE stands for: Search.17 - . guardrails. • Adjust your speed by accelerating. a three-step process for making appropriate judgments and applying them correctly in different traffic situations. • Traffic coming from either the left. evaluate. Then . • Vehicles and other traffic may move into your path and increase the likelihood of a collision. • Hazardous road conditions. or behind.
and cars on side streets that pull into your lane. cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce your reaction time. An intersection is anywhere traffic may cross your path. assume that it will. The only eyes that you can count on are your own. Your use of SEE at intersections is critical. If you have a stop sign or stop line. Over one-half of motorcycle/passenger vehicle collisions are caused by drivers entering a rider’s right-of-way. The driver might think that you are preparing to turn. or school and construction zones. but to stay out of it. are the biggest dangers. As you approach an intersection. Decision-making becomes more complex with three or more hazards. It can be in the middle of an urban area or at a driveway on a residential street. Do not change speed or position radically. In high-risk areas. a driver can look right at a motorcyclist and still fail to “see” him/her. intersections The greatest potential for conflict between you and other traffic is at intersections. Weigh the consequences of each and give equal distance to the hazards.18 - . Never count on “eye contact” as a sign that a driver will yield to you. shopping areas. move away from vehicles preparing to turn.deal with them one at a time as single hazards. In this picture the rider has moved to the left portion of the lane—away from the parked car—so the driver on the cross street can see him/her as soon as possible. Ride with your headlight on in a lane position that provides you with the best view of oncoming traffic. After entering the intersection. Maintain a space cushion around your motorcycle that permits you to take evasive action. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. large intersections . Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. Vehicles that turn left in front of you. Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. Blind Intersections When you approach a blind intersection. Good riders are always “looking for trouble”—not to get into it. There are no guarantees that others will see you. including those illegally turning left from the wrong lane. such as intersections. select a lane position that increases your visibility to the driver. Too often. move to the portion of the lane that brings you into another driver’s field of vision at the earliest possible moment. If a vehicle can enter your path.
If oncoming traffic is present. drivers getting out of cars. Since you can’t tell what a driver will do. Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone to enter. Sound your horn and continue with caution.stop there first. Then edge forward and stop again. Even if the driver looks. he/she may fail to see you. just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane. it is usually best to remain in the center portion of the lane to maximize your space cushion. Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking. parkeD cars BlinD intersection Passing Parked Cars When passing parked cars. They may cut you off entirely. . Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous.19 - . or people stepping from between cars. the driver might enter your path. parked cars. slow down and get the driver’s attention. This way. or bushes to see if anything is coming. In either event. lean your body forward and look around buildings. blocking the whole roadway and leaving you with no place to go. stay toward the left portion of your lane. you can avoid problems caused by doors opening. A bigger problem can occur if a driver pulls away from the curb without checking for traffic behind. From that position.
it’s hard to see something you are not looking for. Studies show that during the day. Even if a driver does see you coming. However. you can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize you and your motorcycle.Parking at the Roadside Park at a 90° angle to the curb with the rear wheel touching the curb. a motorcycle with its light on is twice as likely to be noticed. parking at curBs increasing visiBility In collisions with motorcyclists. From ahead or behind. Wear brightly-colored clothing to increase your chances of being seen. Headlight The best way to help others see your motorcycle is to always keep the headlight on. red. Also. Clothing Most collisions occur in broad daylight. yellow. It is common for drivers to pull out in front of motorcyclists. . Too often. Smaller vehicles appear farther away and seem to be traveling slower than they actually are. Reflective material on a vest and on the sides of the helmet will help drivers see you from the side. thinking they have plenty of time. you aren’t necessarily safe. twowheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to them. Remember. and most drivers are not looking for motorcycles. drivers often say that they never saw the motorcycle. they are wrong. Use your high beam if it is legal and safe to do so. Reflective material can also be a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind. a motorcycle’s outline is much smaller than a passenger vehicle’s. use the low beam. When it is foggy. Bright orange.20 - . Brightly colored helmets can also help others see you. or green jackets or vests are the best for being seen. your body is half of the visible surface area of the rider/motorcycle unit. Using your high beam during the day and at night increases the chances that oncoming drivers will see you. they are looking through the skinny. More likely.
When you enter a freeway. be sure to turn them off or a driver may pull directly into your path. Use them anytime you plan to change lanes or turn. At highway speeds. It is especially important to flash your brake light before you slow: • For a tight. If bright sunlight makes your turn signal lights hard to see. They tell others what you plan to do. • Where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an alley).Turn Signals The turn signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. If you are being tailgated. Using your turn signals before each turn reduces confusion and frustration for the traffic around you. use hand signals. Signal your left or right turn during the last 100 feet before reaching the turning point. turn signals are even more important. Once you turn. fast turn off a highspeed highway. If the situation permits. it is best to signal at least five seconds before changing lanes.21 - . Use your turn signals even when you think no one else is around. thinking you plan to turn again. it’s a good idea to flash your brake light before you slow. signals LEFT TURN RIGHT TURN SLOW or STOP However. drivers approaching from behind are more likely to see your turn signal blinking and make room for you. . Your turn signals also make you easier to see. help others notice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. Brake Light Your motorcycle’s brake light is usually not as noticeable as a vehicle’s—especially when the taillight is on. due to a rider’s added vulnerability.
A driver in the distant lane may drive into the same space you plan to take. • Forming a mental image of how far away it is. Motorcycles have “blind spots” just like other vehicles.22 - . In order to make safe decisions about how to handle trouble ahead. • Before you change lanes. turn your head and check that lane for other vehicles. If the driver isn’t paying attention. • Allowing extra distance before you change lanes. Traffic conditions change quickly. Head Checks Checking your mirrors is not enough. They also make cars seem farther away than they really are. • Practicing with your mirrors until you become a good judge of distance. On a road with several lanes. Some motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. you can’t ignore situations behind you. check the far lane and the one next to you. you can get familiar with them by: • Picking out a parked car in your mirror (while you are stopped). Frequent head checks should be part of your normal scanning routine. you signal a turn and the driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection. For example. BlinD spots . Make a special point of using your mirrors: • When you are stopped at an intersection. Only by knowing what is happening all around. • Before you slow down. Before you change lanes. rather than at a nearer driveway. • Then. Watch cars coming up from behind. you must know what is going on behind you.Using Your Mirrors While it’s most important to know what’s happening ahead. Make sure no one is about to pass you. These mirrors provide a wider view of the road behind than flat mirrors. The driver behind you may not expect you to slow. If you are not used to convex mirrors. he could be on top of you before he sees you. can you be fully prepared to deal with it. or may be unsure about where you will slow. Frequent mirror checks should be part of your normal searching routine. turning around and looking to see how close you came.
Use your high beam whenever you are not following or approaching another vehicle.Horn Be ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. You can’t always stop quickly to avoid an obstacle. Studies show that most collisions involved riders who: . collision avoiDance No matter how careful you are. you should: • Reduce Your Speed. In an emergency. Remember that a motorcycle’s horn isn’t as loud as a car’s. there will be times when you find yourself in a tight spot.23 - . Allow more distance to pass and be passed. a collision occurs because a rider is not prepared or skilled in collision-avoidance maneuvers. be seen. Other strategies may be appropriate along with the horn. • Someone is in the street riding a bicycle or walking. and keep an adequate space cushion. The headlights of the car ahead can give you a better view of the road than your high beam. • Increase Distance. Be visible. but don’t rely on it. press the horn button loud and long. Be ready to stop or swerve away from the danger. • Use Your High Beam. • A driver is seated in a parked car ahead. • Be Flexible about lane position. Picking your motorcycle’s headlight or taillight out of the other lights is not easy for drivers. Two skills critical in avoiding a collision are knowing when and how to stop or swerve. Wear reflective materials when riding at night. 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. These contrasts are missing or distorted at night. Often. Open up a three-second or more following distance. so use it. You must also be able to swerve around an obstacle. Change to the portion of the lane that helps you see. Ride even slower than you would during the day—particularly on roads you don’t know well. Your chances of getting out safely depend on your ability to react quickly and properly. To make up for this. • Use the Car Ahead. It is a good idea to give a quick beep before passing anyone that may move into your lane. Distances are harder to judge at night than during the day. This increases your chances of avoiding a hazard. Taillights bouncing up and down can alert you to bumps or rough pavement. Get all the light you can. Riding at Night At night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts to determine how far away an object is and how fast it is com- ing.
Squeeze the brake lever firmly with continuing steady pressure. Always use both brakes at the same time to stop. Swerving or Turning Quickly Sometimes you may not have enough room to stop. • Did not separate braking from swerving or did not choose to swerve when it was appropriate. An object might appear suddenly in your path or the car ahead might stop abruptly. The motorcycle should now be straight up and in balance. NOTE: Even with a locked rear wheel. If you must brake while leaning.24 - . then Brake Brake. release the front brake immediately and then reapply it firmly. Then in the last few feet of stopping. then sWerve . apply both brakes at the same time. Quick Stops To stop quickly. you can keep it locked until you have completely stopped. If the front wheel locks. apply the brakes lightly and reduce the throttle. even if you use both brakes properly. but don’t “grab” it either. it may not always be possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. However. Don’t be shy about using the front brake. If you must stop quickly while turning or riding a curve. you should “straighten” the handlebars. At the same time. reduce your lean angle and apply more brake pressure until the motorcycle is straight and maximum brake pressure is possible. the best technique is to straighten the motorcycle first and then brake.• Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear. If you accidentally lock the rear brake on a good traction surface. The only way to avoid a collision sWerve. you can control the motorcycle on a straightaway if it is upright and going in a straight line. As you slow. press down on the rear brake. The front brake can provide almost three-quarters of your stopping power.
Brake before or after—never while swerving. The sharper the turn(s). start at the outside of a curve to increase your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. To swerve to the left. Keep your knees against the tank and your feet solidly on the pegs. Every curve is different. Keep your body upright and allow the motorcycle to lean in the direction of the turn. road conditions. Press on the opposite handlegrip once you clear the obstacle and are ready to return to your original direction of travel. or a rapid shift to the side. To swerve to the right. gradually widens. It can be two quick turns. and as you pass the center. .may be to turn quickly or swerve around it. move toward the inside of the curve. apply a small amount of hand pressure to the handlegrip on the side of your intended direction of escape. You can also adjust for traffic “crowding” the center line or debris blocking part of your lane. Make your escape route the target of your vision. To swerve. Be alert to whether a curve remains constant. A swerve is any sudden change in direction. and curve of the road. move to the outside to exit. then left. If braking is required. separate it from swerving. Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits. Let the motorcycle move underneath you. press the left handlegrip. If there is no traffic. This causes the motorcycle to lean quickly. Your best path may not always follow the curve of the road. Another choice is to move to the center of your lane before entering a curve and stay there until you exit. This allows you to see approaching traffic as soon as possible. then press the right to recover.25 - . press right. As you turn. gets tighter. Cornering A primary cause of single-vehicle collisions is motorcyclists running wide in a curve or turn and colliding with the roadway or a fixed object. or involves multiple turns. the more the motorcycle must lean. Change your lane position based on traffic.
broken pavement. Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles Watch for uneven surfaces such as bumps. . or small pieces of highway trash. you should: • Slow down as much as possible before contact. • Grooves and gratings.constant curves multiple curves Decreasing curves WiDening curves hanDling Dangerous surfaces Your chance of falling or being involved in a collision increases whenever you ride across: • Uneven surfaces or obstacles. • Make sure the motorcycle is straight. • Slippery surfaces. If you have to ride over the obstacle. Avoid obstacles by slowing or going around them. • Railroad tracks or pavement seams. if you must go over the obstacle. potholes.26 - . However. first determine if it’s possible. Look where you want to go to control your path of travel. Approach it at as close to a 90° angle as possible.
pull off the road and check your tires and rims for damage before riding any farther. especially when wet. Often. Remember to use gentle pressure on the rear brake. turn. • Avoid Sudden Moves. roll on the throttle slightly to lighten the front end. It is especially important to reduce speed before entering wet curves. Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up. the left tire track will be the best lane position. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel. consider letting your feet skim along the surface. • Be Cautious of the Edge of the Road. keep your motorcycle straight up and proceed as slowly as possible.• 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. Ride on the least slippery portion of the lane and reduce your speed. or brake. Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. or travel at a walking pace. ride in a vehicle’s tire tracks. If you ride over an object. • Watch For Oil Spots when you put your foot down to stop or park. When it starts to rain. The front brake is still effective. • Just before contact. Slippery Surfaces Motorcycles handle better on surfaces with good traction. shift gears. When slippery. particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil washes to the side of the road. If .27 - . your motorcycle needs more distance to stop. steel plates. Patches of ice tend to develop in low or shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses. • Remember Rain Dries and Snow Melts Faster on Some Sections of a Road than on others. snow. Slow down before you get to a slippery surface to reduce your chances of skidding. • Lane markings. even on a slippery surface. especially on curves and ramps leading to and from highways. and ice. To ride safely on slippery surfaces: • Reduce Speed. If you can’t avoid an icy or snowy surface. • Mud. You may slip and fall. • Remember That the Center of a Lane Can be Hazardous When Wet. • Gravel roads or where sand and gravel collect. depending on traffic and other road conditions as well. If you encounter a large surface so slippery that you must coast. Surfaces with poor traction include: • Wet pavement. • Use Both Brakes. Wet leaves are just as slippery as wet road surfaces. and manhole covers. Any sudden change in speed or direction can cause a skid.
ruts. Then. you can catch yourself. If the motorcycle starts handling differently. Crossing at an angle forces riders to zigzag to stay in the lane. Relax and maintain a steady speed and ride straight across. In dealing with any mechanical problem. or pavement seams to cross at an angle of at least 45°. Be sure to keep off the brakes. move far enough away from tracks. If possible.the motorcycle starts to fall. grate crossing-Wrong grate crossing-right crossing tracks-right mechanical proBlems You can find yourself in an emergency the moment something goes wrong with your motorcycle. squeeze the clutch and coast. Grooves and Gratings Riding over rain grooves or bridge gratings may cause your motorcycle to weave. sharp turn. take into account the road and traffic conditions you face. 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.28 - . Here are some guidelines that can help you handle mechanical problems safely. crossing tracks-Wrong . The zigzag is far more hazardous than the wandering feeling. make a quick. This uneasy. it may be a tire failure. For track and road seams that run parallel to your course. 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. Edging across could catch your tires and throw you off balance. Attempting this maneuver at anything other than the slowest of speeds could prove hazardous. Tire Failure You will seldom hear a tire go flat.
squeeze the clutch. • Close the throttle gradually to slow down. . the back of the motorcycle may jerk or sway from side to side. Stuck Throttle Twist the throttle back and forth several times. If you can’t lighten the load. Wobble A “wobble” occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly start to shake from side to side at any speed. • When the motorcycle slows. but don’t fight the wobble. If the throttle stays stuck. This will remove power from the rear wheel. a front wheel that is bent. worn steering parts. If one of your tires suddenly loses air.29 - . After you have stopped. shift it. Instead: • Grip the handlebars firmly. braking could make the wobble worse. this may free it. spring pre-load. Make sure the tire pressure.” A front-wheel flat is particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. and stop. misaligned. react quickly to keep your balance. have the motorcycle thoroughly checked by a qualified professional.” leave the road and stop.You must be able to tell from the way the motorcycle reacts if you have tire failure. If you are carrying a heavy load. If the front tire goes flat. lighten it. Check for poorly adjusted steering. If either tire goes flat while riding: • Hold the handlegrips firmly. air shocks. Stop riding and check the tires as soon as possible. or incorrect tire pressure. or out of balance. Once the motorcycle is “under control. • Move your weight as far forward and down as possible. • If braking is required. Make sure windshields and fairings are mounted properly. and dampers are at the recommended settings for that much weight. gradually apply the brake of the tire that isn’t flat. ease off the throttle. if you are sure which one it is. Make certain the throttle works freely before you start riding again. Most wobbles can be traced to improper loading. You have to steer well to keep your balance. Center the weight lower and farther forward on the motorcycle. ride to the side of the road. immediately operate the engine cut-off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. Do not apply the brakes. the steering will feel “heavy. though engine noise may not immediately decline. and swing arm bearings. Trying to “accelerate out of a wobble” will only make the motorcycle more unstable. loose wheel bearings or spokes. and keep a straight course. If the rear tire goes flat. check the throttle cable carefully to find the trouble. If none of these are the cause. If the throttle cable is stuck. unsuitable accessories.
getting off the roaD animals Do everything you safely can do to avoid hitting an animal. pull off the road. in traffic. Don’t kick at an animal. Engine Seizure When the engine “locks” or “freezes” it is usually low on oil. or both before riding again. Close the throttle and brake to a stop. As you approach it. if needed. cigarettes thrown from vehicles. slow way down before you turn onto it.30 - . face. Keep control of your motorcycle. If needed. When this happens. If you are chased. For larger animals (deer. Check the oil. • Slippage. Whatever happens. If the engine’s moving parts can’t move smoothly against each other. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengage the engine from the rear wheel. Hitting something small is less dangerous to you than hitting something big—like a car. Without face protection. be sure you: • Check the roadside. the sprockets. the effect is the same as a locked rear wheel. making it difficult to see. Pull off the road and stop. or mouth. downshift and approach the animal slowly. flying oBjects From time to time riders are struck by insects. keep your eyes on the road and your hands on the handlebars. If the chain slips when you try to speed up or ride uphill. Chain slippage or breakage can be avoided by proper maintenance. . When safe. cattle) brake and prepare to stop—they are unpredictable.• Leave the road as soon as you can to fix the problem. Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. or if you’re just not sure about it. pull off the road and repair the damage. If you are wearing face protection. loose sand. it might get smeared or cracked. Tightening the chain may help. Let the engine cool before restarting. If you are If you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or just to rest for a while). elk. remain in your lane. • Breakage—You’ll notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel. If it is soft grass. add oil as soon as possible or the engine will seize. Check the chain and sprockets. Make sure the roadside is firm enough to ride on. an object could hit you in the eye. accelerate away and leave the animal behind. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or a change in the engine’s sound. or pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. Chain Problems A chain that slips or breaks while you’re riding could lock the rear wheel and cause your motorcycle to skid. Replace the chain. however. the engine overheats.
provide complete instructions before you start. Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. balances. Before taking a passenger or a heavy load on the street. tell your passenger to tighten his or her hold when you: Only experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. adjust the mirror and headlight according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle. or moving parts. Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down. and slows down. You will probably need to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if you carry a passenger. • Park carefully. 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. • Stay directly behind you leaning as you lean. You should not sit any farther forward than you usually do. • Protective equipment should be the same protective gear recommended for operators. You don’t want someone else leaving the road at the same place you are. chains. Firm footing prevents your passenger from falling off and pulling you off. • Avoid unnecessary talk or motion. carrying passengers anD cargo • Footrests for the passenger. Tell your passenger to: • Get on the motorcycle only after you have started the engine. Get as far off the road as you can. • Keep legs away from the muffler(s). • Pull off the road. • Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you. even when stopped.) While your passenger sits on the seat with you. . • Instruct the passenger before you start. The extra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles.• Signal. or belt. Equipment should include: • A proper seat large enough to hold both of you without crowding. • Keep both feet on the pegs. • Adjust your riding technique for the added weight. Also. Instructing Passengers Even if your passenger is a motorcycle rider. speeds up. too. (Check your owner’s manual for appropriate settings. hips. Check your mirror and make a head check before you take any action. practice away from traffic. • Hold firmly to your waist.31 - . Loose and sloped shoulders can make setting the side or center stand difficult. Give a clear signal that you will be slowing and changing direction. It can be very hard to see a motorcycle by the side of the road.
or in front of. • Keep the Load Forward. Turn your head slightly to make yourself understood. enter. A tight load won’t catch in the wheel or chain. • Ride a little slower. turning sharply. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side. the longer it will take to slow down and speed up—especially on a light-duty motorcycle. Keep the Group Small Small groups make it easier and safer for other drivers to get around them. Tank bags keep loads forward. but use caution when loading hard or sharp objects. Elastic cords with more than one attachment point per side are more secure. • Begin slowing sooner as you approach a stop. A small number isn’t separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Fasten loads securely. • Are about to start from a stop. Some riders won’t always be hurrying to . Make sure the tank bag does not interfere with handlebars or controls. the rear axle. corners.32 - . It can also cause a wobble. or bumps. • Warn that you will make a sudden move. or merge with traffic. do it in a way that promotes safety and doesn’t interfere with the flow of traffic. especially when taking curves. group riDing If you ride with others. causing it to lock up and skid. if positioned and fastened properly. • Check the Load. • Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides. The heavier your passenger. or riding over bumps. • Keep the Load Low. • Distribute the Load Evenly. Place the load over. Ropes tend to stretch and knots can come loose. • Secure the Load. permitting the load to shift or fall. Riding With Passengers Your motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger. but keep your eyes on the road ahead. Carrying Loads Most motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. or put them in saddlebags. Load saddlebags with about the same weight. stopping quickly. • Wait for larger gaps to cross. Warn your passenger of these special conditions: Starting.• Approach surface problems. Stop and check the load often to make sure it has not worked loose or moved. Small loads can be carried safely. Mounting a load behind the rear axle affects how the motorcycle turns and brakes. Fasten the load securely with elastic cords (bungee cords or nets). Stacking loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the motorcycle’s center of gravity and shifts its balance.
the leader returns to staggereD formation . Start lane changes early to permit everyone to complete the lane change safely. divide it into two or more smaller groups. The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early so there is plenty of time for everyone to follow. the lead rider pulls out and passes when safe. There is no place to go to avoid a car or a hazard on the road. After passing. This is the best way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion. Keep the Group Together • Plan. Make sure everyone knows the route. Then. Never operate directly alongside another rider. • Don’t Pair Up. • Know the Route. wait until you are both stopped. To talk. The fourth rider keeps a two-second distance behind the second rider. – First. The leader rides in the left portion of the lane while the second rider stays one second behind in the right portion of the lane. However. Plan frequent stops on long rides. • Follow Those Behind. • Put Beginners Up Front. • Staggered Formation. Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. If a rider falls behind. A close group takes up less space on the highway. is easier to see. and to the sides. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from others ahead. behind. and is less likely to be separated. 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. If your group is larger than four or five riders.33 - . A third rider rides in the left portion of the lane two seconds behind the first rider. Use your mirrors to keep an eye on the person behind. this formation must be done properly.catch up. everyone should slow down a little to stay together. if someone is separated he/she won’t have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. Let the last rider set the pace. – Passing in formation. Place inexperienced riders behind the leader so the more experienced riders can watch them.
– After the first rider passes safely. sick. Three factors play a major part in determining BAC: • The amount of alcohol you consume. Generally. The faster you drink. 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. • Your body weight. As little as one alcoholic drink can have a significant effect on your performance. alcohol can be eliminated in the body at the rate of almost one drink per hour. Blood alcohol concentration or BAC is the amount of alcohol in relation to blood in the body. or a 12-ounce glass of 5% beer. malt liquors. upset. turning. • Single-File Formation. If you drink two drinks in an hour. Move into a single-file formation when riding curves. are tired. BlooD alcohol concentration BeiNG iN shaPe to riDe Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. • How fast you drink. more than any other factor. the second rider moves up to the left portion of the lane and watches for a safe chance to pass. 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. The more alcohol in your blood. or entering or leaving a highway.the left portion of the lane and continues riding at “passing speed” to open room for the next rider. the greater the degree of impairment. a 5-ounce glass of 12% wine. But a variety of other factors may also influence the level of alcohol retained. Skilled riders pay attention to their riding environment and to operating the motorcycle. identifying potential hazards. affect your ability to think clearly and to ride safely. making good judgments. – Some people suggest that the leader should move to the right portion of the lane after passing a vehicle. or have taken medicines or drugs. Alcohol and other drugs. This is not a good idea. and executing decisions quickly and skillfully. “One drink” is a 1 1/2-ounce shot of 80-proof liquor (even if mixed with non-alcoholic drinks). at the . These “one drink” equivalents change if you drink ale. this rider returns to the right portion of the lane and opens up room for the next rider. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road and traffic conditions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. After passing.34 - . or fortified wines or if you drink on an empty stomach. the more alcohol accumulates in your body.
Law enforcement is being stepped up across the country in response to the senseless deaths and injuries caused by drinking drivers and riders. MotorcYcle iNsUraNce Facts The financial responsibility sections of the California Vehicle Code apply to all two-wheel vehicle owners and operators. as an operator. broker. You won’t be able to concentrate on the task at hand. especially on a long trip. wine. your resistance becomes weaker. no matter how slightly. . • Don’t drink alcohol or use drugs. at least one drink will remain in your bloodstream. Stop and get off the motorcycle at least every two hours. A breath or blood test is what usually determines whether you are riding legally or illegally. a person 21 years of age or older with a BAC of . or hard liquor if you are under the age of 21.01% or more (CVC §23136). including yourself. Avoid riding when tired. • Take frequent rest breaks. you (or your insurance agent. Dress warmly. The law is very strict if you are under 21 and drive with a BAC that is 0. or in which anyone. IMPORTANT: You cannot legally purchase beer. Fatigue can affect your control of the motorcycle. cold. It doesn’t matter how sober you may look or act. alcohol anD the laW In California.end of that hour. you must control your riding. Once you start. • Limit your distance. and rain make you tire quickly. Your chances of being stopped for riding under the influence of alcohol are increasing.35 - . fatigue Riding a motorcycle is more tiring than driving a car. • Protect yourself from the elements. is injured. Experienced riders seldom try to ride more than about six hours a day. or legal representative) must report the collision to DMV. Wind. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long distances. including yourself. The California Driver Handbook has more information.08% or above is considered intoxicated. Or Don’t Ride. are involved in a collision which causes more than $750 in property damage to one person. If you haven’t controlled your drinking. Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fatigue or depression as they start to wear off. The CHP or police will not make this report. You must make this report within 10 days on the Report of Traffic Accident Occurring in California minimize the risks Minimize the risks of drinking and riding by taking the following steps: Don’t Drink. If you.
dmv. Bureau of Land Management (BLM). Know where the boundaries are. treaD liGhtlY! The U. and grasses—this can damage or kill them. shrubs. steep hillsides. Respect landowner rights. or ten years.gov. or stream banks and lake shores easily scarred by churning wheels. six. • Avoid running over young trees. The stress uses up their limited energy reserves. • Travel around meadows.000.36 - . Refer to the California Driver Handbook for more information. • Get permission to travel across private lands.(SR1) form. You can get this form from any DMV or CHP office. he/she is subject to: • Imprisonment in a state prison for three.1). Learn the rules and follow them. • Stay away from wild animals that are rearing young—or suffering from food shortages. • Both that fine and imprisonment.3[a]). This form is also available on DMV’s web site at www. Check with your insurance company about your coverage before you buy or ride a motorcycle.S. 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 (CVC §2800. Vandalism costs tax dollars. five. and California Department of Parks and Recreation would like you to TREAD LIGHTLY! • Obtain a Travel Map from your local USFS or BLM office. wet roads and trails readily torn up by vehicles. Forest Service (USFS). or to cut across a switchback. • A fine of not less than $2. or seven years or in a county jail for not more than one year. • Stay off soft.3[b]). • Obey gate closures and regulatory signs. or regulations from other public land agencies. • Resist the urge to pioneer a new road or trail. • Stay out of designated wilderness areas. If a person is convicted of killing anyone during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800.ca. .000 nor more than $10. If a person is convicted of causing serious bodily injury during the course of a police pursuit (CVC §2800. he/she is subject to imprisonment in a state prison for four.
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