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For information about driver licenses, call your local

Driver License Office or Driver License Customer Service
at 512/424-2600 or visit the Driver License web page
www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/dr iver_license_control .

For information about motorcycle operator training
courses, call the Motorcycle Safety Unit at 512/424-2021 or
toll free 1-800-292-5787, email the Motorcycle Safety Unit at
motorcycle.safety@txdps.state.tx.us , or visit the Motorcycle
Safety Unit’s web page, www.txdps.state.tx.us/msb .
MOTORCYCLES MAKE SENSE–
SO DOES PROFESSIONAL TRAINING

The Department of Public Safety’s Motorcycle Operator
Training Program was developed for all persons wishing
to improve their riding skills.

Research shows that motorcycle operator training is equal
to two years of riding experience. Experts provide profes-
sional training that prepares one for “real world” traffic.

This inexpensive and valuable training program teaches
and improves activities such as:

• Effective Turning
• Braking Maneuvers
• Protective Gear Selection
• Street Strategies
• Obstacle Avoidance
NOTICE: The Texas Department of Public Safety does
For the Basic or Advanced Motorcycle Operator Training
not discriminate because of race, color, religion, sex,
Course nearest you, contact the Motorcycle Safety Unit at:
national origin, age, or disability. Persons needing accom -
modation under the provisions of the Americans With
TEXAS MO TORCYCLE SAFETY UNIT
Disabilities Act (ADA) should contact their local Driver
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
License Office. ADA Grievance Procedures are published
5805 N . Lamar Blvd., Box 4087
in the Texas Administrative Code, Title 37, Section 1.41.
Austin, Texas 78773-0257
512/424-2021 or 1-800-292-5787
Web Address: www.txdps.state.tx.us/msb
E-mail: motorcycle.safety@txdps.state.tx.us
PREFACE

This Motorcycle Operator’s Manual has been prepared in coopera-
tion with the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. Within these pages are
numerous instructions, suggestions, and tips that, if followed, will
prepare anyone for a lifetime of enjoyable motorcycling.

In recent years motorcycle safety has received a great deal of atten-
tion. This is the result of many serious injuries and deaths of
motorcyclists in motor vehicle traffic accidents. This handbook was
prepared to assist the beginning motorcyclist in passing the
required written examination. In addition, this manual serves to
refresh and therefore, improve the experienced rider.

Although comprehensive, this handbook does not include all laws
regulating traffic on the streets and highways. The Department of
Public Safety strongly recommends reference to the motor vehicle
statutes in order to gain an exact knowledge of motor vehicle laws.

A copy of the “Texas Motorcycle Laws” pamphlet is available from
the Motorcycle Safety Unit. Refer to their contact information on
the inside of the back cover.
CONTENTS A MESSAGE FROM THE DIRECTOR OF THE
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
PREPARING HANDLING D ANGEROUS S URFACES .27
TO RIDE Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles . .27
Slippery Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . .28 Motorcycling is an enjoyable driving experience. However, motorcyclists too
WEAR THE R IGHT G EAR . . . . . . . .4
Tracks and Pavement Seams .29 often suffer severe injury or even death as a result of a crash. Motorcycling
Helmet Use . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .4
Grooves and Gratings . . . . . . .29 only looks easy. In reality it is quite challenging, requiring special knowl-
Helmet Selection . . . . . . . . . . . .4
MECHANICAL P ROBLEMS . . . . . . .30 edge and skills beyond those needed to drive a car.
Eye and Face Protection . . . . . .5
Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .5 Tire Failure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30
Stuck Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 This handbook was prepared primarily for the beginning rider. I encourage
KNOW YOUR MOT ORCYCLE . . . . . .6
Wobble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .30 you to digest this information in preparation for your licensing examina-
The Right Motorcycle For You . .6
Chain Problems . . . . . . . . . . . .31 tion. I believe that you will be a safer motorcyclist if you follow the sugges-
Borrowing and Lending . . . . . . .7
tions outlined in this document. Experienced motorcyclists also benefit
Know Your Motorcycle Controls 7 Engine Seizure . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
from a regular review of this document.
Check Your Motorcycle . . . . . . . .8 ANIMALS . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .31
F LYING O BJECTS . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Establishing safe riding habits early in your motorcycling career will, no
RIDE WITHIN G ETTING O FF T HE R OAD . . . . . .32
doubt, yield years of enjoyment.
YOUR ABILITIES C ARRYING P ASSENGERS
AND C ARGO . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
B ASIC V EHICLE C ONTROL . . . . . .10
Body Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .32
Thomas A. Davis, Director
Shifting Gears . . . . . . . . . . . . .10 Instructing Passengers . . . . . .33
Department of Public Safety
Braking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Riding With Passengers . . . . . .33
Turning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .11 Carrying Loads . . . . . . . . . . . . .33
KEEPING YOUR D ISTANCE . . . . . .12 G ROUP R IDING . . . . . . . . . . . . . .34
Lane Positions . . . . . . . . . . . . .12 Keep the Group Small . . . . . . .34
Following Another Vehicle . . . .13 Keep the Group Together . . . . .34
Being Followed . . . . . . . . . . . . .14 Keep Your Distance . . . . . . . . .34
Passing and Being Passed . . . .14
Lane Sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 BEING IN SHAPE
Merging Cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 TO RIDE
Cars Alongside . . . . . . . . . . . . .16 WHY INFORMATION IS IMPORTANT . .36
SIPDE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .17 ALCOHOL AND O THER D RUGS IN
I NTERSECTIONS . . . . . . . . . . . . . .18 MOT ORCYCLE O PERATION . . . . . .36
Blind Intersections . . . . . . . . . .19 ALCOHOL IN THE B ODY . . . . . . . .37
Passing Parked Cars . . . . . . . .20 Blood Alcohol Concentration . .37
Parking at the Roadside . . . . .20 ALCOHOL AND THE L AW . . . . . . .38
I NCREASING C ONSPICUITY . . . . . .21 Consequences of a DWI Arrest .38
Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 Consequences of Conviction . . .38
Headlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 MINIMIZE THE R ISKS . . . . . . . . . .39
Signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .21 S TEP IN TO P ROTECT F RIENDS . .39
Brake Light . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .22 F ATIGUE . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .40
Using Your Mirrors . . . . . . . . .22
Head Checks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 EARNING
Horn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 YOUR LICENSE
Riding at Night . . . . . . . . . . . . .23 Knowledge Test . . . . . . . . . . . . .41
C RASH AVOIDANCE . . . . . . . . . . .24 On-Cycle Skill Test . . . . . . . . . .42
Quick Stops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .24 Frequently Asked Questions . .42
Swerving or Turning Quickly .25
Cornering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .26 R IDING T EXAS HIGHWAYS . . . . . . . .43
PREPARING TO RIDE HELMETS

What you do before you start a trip goes a long way toward determining
whether or not you’ll get where you want to go safely. Before taking off on
any trip, a safe rider makes a point to:
1. Wear the right gear .
2. Become familiar with the motorcycle.
3. Check the motorcycle equipment.
4. Be a responsible rider .

WEAR THE RIGHT GEAR • An approved helmet lets you
see as far to the sides as neces-
When you ride, your gear is “right” sary. A study of more than 900
if it protects you. In any crash, you motorcycle crashes, where 40% • Meets U.S . Department of they won’t protect the rest of your
have a far better chance of avoid- of the riders wore helmets, did Transportation (DOT) and state face like a face shield does. A wind-
ing serious injury if you wear: not find even one case in which standards. Helmets with a label shield is not a substitute for a face
a helmet kept a rider from spot- from the Snell Memorial shield or goggles. Most windshields
• An approved helmet ting danger. Foundation gives you an added will not protect your eyes from the
• Face or eye protection • Most crashes happen on short assurance of quality. wind. Neither will eyeglasses or
• Protective clothing trips (less than five miles long), •Fits snugly all the way around. sunglasses. Glasses won’t keep
just a few minutes after start- •Has no obvious defects such as your eyes from watering, and they
H ELMET USE ing out. cracks, loose padding or frayed might blow off when you turn your
•Most riders are riding slower straps. head while riding.
Crashes are not rare events—par- than 30 mph when a crash
ticularly among beginning riders. occurs. At these speeds, helmets Whatever helmet you decide on, To be effective, eye or face shield
And one out of every five motorcy- can cut both the number and keep it securely fastened on your protection must:
cle crashes result in head or neck the severity of head injuries by head when you ride. Otherwise, if
injuries. Head injuries are just as half. you are involved in a crash, it’s • Be free of scratches.
severe as neck injuries—and far likely to fly off your head before it • Be resistant to penetration.
more common. Crash analyses No matter what the speed, helmet- gets a chance to protect you. • Give a clear view of either side.
show that head and neck injuries ed riders are three times more • Fasten securely so it does not
account for a majority of serious likely to survive head injuries than EYE AND F ACE P ROTECTION blow off.
and fatal injuries to motorcyclists. those not wearing helmets at the • Permit air to pass through, to
Research also shows that, with few time of the crash. reduce fogging.
A plastic shatter-resistant face
exceptions, head and neck injuries shield can help protect your whole • Permit enough room for eye-
are reduced by the proper wearing H ELMET SELECTION glasses or sunglasses, if needed.
face in a crash. It also protects you
of an approved helmet. from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects,
There are two primary types of Tinted eye protection should not be
and pebbles thrown up from cars
Some riders don’t wear helmets helmets, providing two different worn at night or any other time
ahead. These problems are dis-
because they think helmets will levels of coverage: three-quarter when little light is available.
tracting and can be painful. If you
limit their view to the sides. and full face.
have to deal with them, you can’t
Others wear helmets only on long devote your full attention to the C LOTHING
trips or when riding at high Whichever style you choose, you
road.
speeds. Here are some facts to con- can get the most protection by
The right clothing protects you in
sider: making sure that the helmet:
Goggles protect your eyes, though a collision. It also provides comfort,

4 5
as well as protection from heat, KNOW YOUR At minimum, your street-legal before allowing them out into traf-
cold, debris, and hot and moving MO TORCYCLE motorcycle should have: fic.
parts of the motorcycle.
• Headlight, taillight and No matter how experienced you
There are plenty of things on the brakelight may be, ride extra carefully on any
• Jacket and pants should cover highway that can cause you trou-
arms and legs completely. They • Front and rear brakes motorcycle that’s new or unfamil-
ble. Your motorcycle should not be • Turn signals iar to you. More than half of all
should fit snugly enough to one of them. To make sure that • Horn crashes occur on motorcycles rid-
keep from flapping in the wind, your motorcycle won’t let you • Two mirrors den by the operator for less than
yet loosely enough to move down: six months.
freely. Leather offers the most
B ORROWING AND L ENDING
protection. Sturdy synthetic • Read the owner’s manual first. G ET F AMILIAR WITH THE
material provides a lot of pro- • Start with the right motorcycle Borrowers and lenders of motorcy- M OTORCYCLE C ONTROLS
tection as well. Wear a jacket for you. cles, beware. Crashes are fairly
even in warm weather to pre- • Be familiar with the motorcycle common among beginning riders– Make sure you are completely
vent dehydration. Many are controls. especially in the first months of familiar with the motorcycle before
designed to protect without get- • Check the motorcycle before riding. Riding an unfamiliar you take it out on the street. Be
ting you overheated, even on motorcycle adds to the problem. If sure to review the owner’s manual.
every ride.
summer days. you borrow a motorcycle, get famil- This is particularly important if
• Keep it in safe riding condition
• Boots or shoes should be high iar with it in a controlled area. you are riding a borrowed motorcy-
between rides. cle. If you are going to use an unfa-
and sturdy enough to cover your And if you lend your motorcycle to
• Avoid add-ons and modifications friends, make sure they are miliar motorcycle:
ankles and give them support. that make your motorcycle
Soles should be made of hard, licensed and know how to ride
harder to handle.
durable slip resistant material.
Keep heels short so they do not MOTORCYCLE CONTROLS
T HE R IGHT M OT ORCYCLE
catch on rough surfaces. Tuck Engine Cut-Off
F OR YOU Light Switch (high/low)
laces in so they won’t catch on Switch
your motorcycle. Choke (varies)
Engine
• Gloves allow a better grip and First, make sure your motorcycle is Turn-Signal Start
help protect your hands in a right for you. It should “fit” you. Switch Button
crash. Your gloves should be Your feet should reach the ground Ignition Key
made of leather or similar while you are seated on the motor- (varies)
durable material. cycle.

In cold or wet weather, your
clothes should keep you warm and Horn Button Throttle
dry, as well as protect you from
injury. You cannot control a motor-
cycle well if you are numb. Riding
Clutch Lever Front Brake Lever
for long periods in cold weather 1 Test Yourself
Speedometer
can cause severe chill and fatigue. A plastic shatter-resistant face & Odometer
A winter jacket should resist wind shield: Tachometer
and fit snugly at the neck, wrists, (if equipped)
and waist. Good quality rainsuits A. Is not necessary if you have a
designed for motorcycle riding windshield.
Fuel Supply Valve
resist tearing apart or ballooning B. Only protects your eyes. (if equipped)
up at high speeds. C. Helps protect your whole face . Rear Brake Pedal
D. Does not protect your face as Gear-Changer Lever
well as goggles.
Kick Starter
Answer - page 46 (if equipped)

6 7
• Make all the checks you would • Turn Signals– Turn on both In addition to the checks you As a rider, you can’t be sure that
on your own motorcycle. right and left turn signals. should make before every trip, other operators will see you or
• Find out where everything is, Make sure all lights are work- check the following items at least yield the right of way. To lessen
particularly the turn signals, ing properly. once a week: Wheels, cables, fas- your chances of a crash occurring:
horn, headlight switch, fuel-con- • Brake Light– Try both brake teners, and fluid. Follow your
trol valve, and engine cut-off controls, and make sure each owner’s manual to get recommen- • Be visible– Wear proper cloth-
switch. Find and operate these one turns on the brake light. dations. ing, use your headlight, ride in
items without having to look for the best lane position to see and
them. Once you have mounted the motor- KNOW YOUR be seen.
• Know the gear pattern. Work cycle, complete the following RESPONSIBILITIES • Communicate your inten -
the throttle, clutch, and brakes checks before starting out: tions– Use the proper signals,
a few times before you start rid- “Accident” implies an unforeseen brake light, and lane position.
ing. All controls react a little • Clutch and Throttle– Make event that occurs without anyone’s • Maintain an adequate space
differently. sure they work smoothly. The fault or negligence. Most often in cushion– When following, being
• Ride very cautiously and be throttle should snap back when traffic, that is not the case. In fact, followed, lane sharing, passing
aware of your surroundings. you let go. The clutch should most people involved in a crash and being passed.
Accelerate gently, take turns feel tight and smooth. can usually claim some responsi - • Scan your path of travel 12
more slowly, and leave extra • Mirrors– Clean and adjust both bility for what takes place. seconds ahead.
room for stopping. mirrors before starting. It’s dif- • Identify and separate multiple
ficult to ride with one hand Consider a situation where some- hazards.
C HECK YOUR M OT ORCYCLE while you try to adjust a mirror. one decides to try to squeeze • Be prepared to act– Remain
Adjust each mirror so you can through an intersection on a yel- alert and know how to carry out
A motorcycle needs more frequent see the lane behind and as low light turning red. Your light proper crash-avoidance skills.
attention than a car. A minor tech- much as possible of the lane turns green. You pull into the
nical failure in a car seldom leads next to you. When properly intersection without checking for Blame doesn’t matter when some-
to anything more than an incon- adjusted, a mirror may show possible latecomers. That is all it one is injured in a crash. There is
venience for the driver. the edge of your arm or shoul- takes for the two of you to tangle. rarely a single cause of any crash.
der, but it’s the road behind and It was the driver’s responsibility to The ability to ride aware, make
If something is wrong with the to the side that’s most impor- stop. And it was your responsibility critical decisions, and carry them
motorcycle, you’ll want to find out tant. to look before pulling out. Neither out separates responsible drivers
about it before you get in traffic. • Brakes– Try the front and rear of you held up your end of the deal. from all the rest. Remember, it is
Make a complete check of your brake levers one at a time. Just because someone else is the up to you to keep from being the
motorcycle before every ride. Make sure each one feels firm first to start the chain of events cause of, or an unprepared partici-
and holds the motorcycle when leading to a crash, doesn’t leave pant, in a crash.
Before mounting the motorcycle the brake is fully applied. any of us free of responsibility.
make the following checks: • Horn– Try the horn. Make sure
it works.
• Tires– Check the air pressure,
general wear and tread. 2 Test Yourself
• Fluids– Oil and fluid levels. At a More than half of all crashes:
minimum, check hydraulic flu-
A. Occur at speeds greater than 35
ids and coolants weekly. Look
mph.
under the motorcycle for signs
B. Happen at night.
of an oil or gas leak.
• Headlight and Taillight– C. Are caused by worn tires.
Check them both. Test your D. Involve riders who have ridden
switch to make sure both high their motorcycles less than six
months.
and low beams are working.
Answer - page 46

8 9
RIDE WITHIN YOUR ABILITIES Make certain you are riding slow apply too much brake. Also,
enough when you shift into a lower using the front brake incorrect-
gear. If not, the motorcycle will ly on a slippery surface may be
This manual cannot teach you how to control direction, speed, or balance. lurch, and the rear wheel may hazardous. Use caution and
That’s something you can learn only through practice. But control begins skid.When riding downhill or squeeze the brake lever, never
with knowing your abilities and riding within them, along with knowing shifting into first gear you may grab.
and obeying the rules of the road. need to use the brakes to slow • Some motorcycles have inte-
enough before downshifting safely. grated braking systems that
Work towards a smooth, even link the front and rear brakes
clutch release, especially when together by applying the rear
downshifting. brake pedal. (Consult the
owner’s manual for a detailed
It is best to change gears before explanation on the operation
entering a turn. However, some- and effective use of these sys-
BASIC VEHICLE CONTROL handlebars so your hands are
times shifting while in the turn is tems.)
even with or below your elbows.
B ODY P OSITION necessary. If so, remember to do so
This permits you to use the
smoothly. A sudden change in T URNING
proper muscles for precision
To control a motorcycle well: power to the rear wheel can cause
steering. a skid. Riders often try to take curves or
• Knees– Keep your knees against turns too fast. When they can’t
• Posture– Sit so you can use your
the gas tank to help you keep B RAKING hold the turn, they end up crossing
arms to steer the motorcycle
your balance as the motorcycle into another lane of traffic or going
rather than to hold yourself up.
turns. Your motorcycle has two brakes: off the road. Or, they overreact and
• Seat– Sit far enough forward so
• Feet– Keep your feet firmly on one each for the front and rear brake too hard, causing a skid and
that arms are slightly bent
the footpegs to maintain bal- wheel. Use both of them at the loss of control. Approach turns and
when you hold the handlegrips.
ance. Don’t drag your feet. If same time. The front brake is more curves with caution.
Bending your arms permits you
your foot catches on something, powerful and can provide at least
to press on the handlebars with- Use four steps for better con -
you can be injured and it could three-quarters of your total stop-
out having to stretch. trol:
affect your control of the motor- ping power. The front brake is safe
• Hands– Hold the handgrips firm-
cycle. Keep your feet near the to use if you use it properly.
ly to keep your grip over rough • SLOW
controls so you can get to them • LOOK
surfaces. Start with your right Remember:
fast if needed. Also, don’t let • LEAN
wrist flat. This will help you
your toes point downward–they • Use both brakes every timeyou • ROLL
keep from accidentally using too
may get caught between the slow or stop. Using both brakes
much throttle. Also, adjust the
road and the footpegs. for even “normal” stops will per- SLOW–Reduce speed before the
mit you to develop the proper turn by closing the throttle and,
HOLDING HANDGRIPS S HIFTING G EARS habit or skill of using both if necessary, applying both
brakes properly in an emer- brakes.
There is more to shifting gears gency. Squeeze the front brake LOOK– Look through the turn to
RIGHT than simply getting the motorcycle and press down on the rear. where you want to go. Turn just
to pick up speed smoothly. Grabbing at the front brake or your head, not your shoulders,
Learning to use the gears when jamming down on the rear can and keep your eyes level with
downshifting, turning, or starting cause the brakes to lock, result- the horizon.
ing in control problems. LEAN– To turn, the motorcycle
on hills is important for safe
• If you know the technique, must lean. To lean the motorcy-
motorcycle operation.
using both brakes in a turn is cle, press on the handgrip in the
possible, although it should be direction of the turn. Press
Shift down through the gears with left–lean left–go left. Press
done very carefully. When lean-
the clutch as you slow or stop. right–lean right–go right.
ing the motorcycle some of the
Remain in first gear while you are Higher speeds and/or tighter
traction is used for cornering.
WRONG stopped so that you can move out Less traction is available for turns require the motorcycle to
quickly if you need to. stopping. A skid can occur if you lean more.

10 11
ROLL– Roll on the throttle 3 Test Yourself LANE POSITIONS
through the turn to stabilize When riding , you should:
suspension. Maintain steady
speed or accelerate gradually A.Turn your head and shoulders to
through the turn. This will help look through turns.
keep the motorcycle stable. B. Keep your arms straight.
C. Keep your knees away from the
In normal turns, the rider and the gas tank.
motorcycle should lean together at D. Turn just your head and eyes to
the same angle. look where you are going.
NORMAL TURNING Answer - page 46

KEEPING YOUR DISTANCE

The best protection you can have is In general, there is no single best F OLLOWING ANOTHER VEHICLE
distance–a “cushion of space”–all position for riders to be seen and
around your motorcycle. If some- to maintain a space cushion “Following too closely” is a major
one else makes a mistake, distance around the motorcycle. No portion factor in crashes involving motor-
permits you: of the lane need be avoided– cyclists. In traffic, motorcycles
including the center. need as much distance to stop as
• Time to react cars. Normally, a minimum of two
• Space to maneuver Position yourself in the portion of seconds of distance should be
the lane where you are most likely maintained behind the vehicle
L ANE P OSITIONS to be seen and you can maintain a ahead.
space cushion around you. Change
In some ways the size of the position as traffic situations To gauge your following distance:
motorcycle can work to your change. Ride in path 2 or 3 if vehi-
In slow tight turns, counterbalance advantage. Each traffic lane gives cles and other potential problems • Pick out a marker , such as a
by leaning the motorcycle only and a motorcycle three paths of travel, are on your left only. Remain in pavement marking or lamppost,
keeping your body straight. as indicated in the illustration. path 1 or 2 if hazards are on your on or near the road ahead.
right only. If vehicles are being • When the rear bumper of the
Your lane position should: operated on both sides of you, the vehicle ahead passes the mark-
SLOW TURNING center of the lane, path 2, is usual- er, count off the seconds: “one-
• Increase your ability to see and ly your best option. thousand-one, one-thousand-
be seen. two.”
• Avoid others’ blind spot. The oily strip in the center portion • If you reach the marker
• Avoid surface hazards. that collects drippings from cars is before you reach “two,” you are
• Protect your lane from other usually no more than two feet following too closely.
drivers. wide. Unless the road is wet, the
• Communicate your intentions. average center strip permits ade- A two-second following distance
• Avoid wind blast from other quate traction to ride on safely. You leaves a minimum amount of space
vehicles. can operate to the left or right of to stop or swerve if the driver
• Provide an escape route. the grease strip and still be within ahead stops suddenly. It also per-
the center portion of the traffic mits a better view of potholes and
Select the appropriate path to lane. Avoid riding on big buildups other hazards in the road.
maximize your space cushion and of oil and grease usually found at
make yourself more easily seen by busy intersections or toll booths. A larger cushion of space is needed
others on the road. if your motorcycle will take longer
than normal to stop. If the pave-

12 13
FOLLOWING P ASSING stay in the center portion of your
lane. Riding any closer to them
1. Ride in the left portion of the could put you in a hazardous situa-
lane at a safe following distance to tion.
increase your line of sight and
make you more visible. Signal and Avoid being hit by:
check for oncoming traffic. Use
your mirrors and turn your head to • The other vehicle– A slight
look for traffic behind. mistake by you or the passing driv-
2. When safe, move into the left er could cause a sideswipe.
lane and accelerate. Select a lane • Extended mirrors– Some driv-
position that doesn’t crowd the car ers forget that their mirrors hang
you are passing and provides space out farther than their fenders.
to avoid hazards in your lane. •Objects thrown from win -
3. Ride through the blind spot dows– Even if the driver knows
as quickly as possible. you’re there, a passenger may not
4. Signal again, and complete see you and might toss something
ment is slippery, if you cannot see ahead and to prevent lane sharing mirror and headchecks before on you or the road ahead of you.
through the vehicle ahead, or if by others. returning to your original lane and • Blasts of wind from larger
then cancel signal. vehicles– They can affect your con-
traffic is heavy and someone may
trol. You have more room for error
squeeze in front of you, open up a B EING F OLLOWED
Remember , passes must be if you are in the middle portion
three second or more following dis-
completed within posted speed when hit by this blast than if you
tance. Speeding up to lose someone fol- are on either side of the lane.
limits, and only where permit -
lowing too closely only ends up ted. Know your signs and road
Keep well behind the vehicle with someone tailgating you at a markings! Do not move into the portion of
ahead even when you are stopped. higher speed. the lane farthest from the passing
This will make it easier to get out B EING P ASSED vehicle. It might invite the other
of the way if someone bears down A better way to handle tailgaters driver to cut back into your lane
on you from behind. It will also is to get them in front of you. When you are being passed from too early.
give you a cushion of space if the When someone is following too behind or by an oncoming vehicle,
vehicle ahead starts to back up for closely, change lanes and let them
some reason. pass. If you can’t do this, slow
down and open up extra space
PASSING BEING PASSED
When behind a car, ride where the ahead of you to allow room for both
driver can see you in the rearview you and the tailgater to stop. This
mirror. Riding in the center portion will also encourage them to pass. If
of the lane should put your image they don’t pass, you will have
in the middle of the rearview mir- given yourself and the tailgater
ror–where a driver is most likely more time and space to react in
to see you. case an emergency does develop
ahead.
Riding at the far side of a lane
may permit a driver to see you in a P ASSING AND B EING P ASSED
sideview mirror. But remember
that most drivers don’t look at Passing and being passed by
their sideview mirrors nearly as another vehicle is not much differ-
often as they check the rearview ent than with a car. However, visi-
mirror. If the traffic situation bility is more critical. Be sure
allows, the center portion of the other drivers see you, and that you
lane is usually the best place for see potential hazards.
you to be seen by the drivers

14 15
L ANE S HARING them plenty of room. Change to SIPDE I DENTIFY
another lane if one is open. If there
Cars and motorcycles need a full is no room for a lane change, Good experienced riders remain Locate hazards and potential con-
lane to operate safely. Lane shar- adjust speed to open up space for aware of what is going on around flicts.
ing is usually prohibited. the merging driver. them. They improve their riding
strategy by using SIPDE, a 5-step • Vehicles and other motorcy -
Riding between rows of stopped or C ARS A LONGSIDE process used to make appropriate cles– may move into your path
moving cars in the same lane can judgments, and apply them cor- and increase the likelihood of a
leave you vulnerable to the unex- Do not ride next to cars or trucks rectly in different traffic situa- crash.
pected. A hand could come out of a in other lanes if you do not have tions: • Pedestrians and animals– are
window; a door could open; or a car to. You might be in the blind spot unpredictable, and make short,
could turn suddenly. Discourage of a car in the next lane, which • Scan quick moves.
lane sharing by others. Keep a cen- could switch into your lane without • Identify • Stationary objects– potholes,
ter-portion position whenever driv- warning. Cars in the next lane also • P redict guard rails, bridges, roadway
ers might be tempted to squeeze by block your escape if you come upon • Decide signs, hedges, or trees won’t
you. Drivers are most tempted to danger in your own lane. Speed up • Execute move into your path but may
do this: or drop back to find a place clear of influence your riding strategy.
traffic on both sides. Let’s examine each of these steps.
• In heavy , bumper-to-bumper P REDICT
traffic.
BLIND SPOTS
S CAN
• When they want to pass you. Consider speed, distance, and
• When you are preparing to turn Search aggressively ahead, to the direction of hazards to anticipate
at an intersection. sides and behind to avoid potential how they may affect you. Cars
moving into your path are more
• When you are getting in an exit hazards even before they arise.
critical than those moving away or
lane or leaving a highway. How assertively you search, and
remaining stationary.
how much time and space you
M ERGING C ARS have, can eliminate or reduce
Predict where a collision may
harm. Focus even more on finding
occur. Completing this “what if...?”
Drivers on an entrance ramp may potential escape routes in or
phrase to estimate results of con-
not see you on the highway. Give around intersections, shopping tacting or attempting to avoid a
areas, schools and construction hazard depends on your knowledge
zones. and experience.
MERGING
Search for : D ECIDE
• Oncoming traffic that may Determine what you need to do
turn left in front of you. based on your prediction.
• Traffic oncoming from the left
and right. The mental process of determining
4 Test Yourself • Traffic approaching from your course of action depends on
Usuall y, a good w a y to handle behind. how aggressively you searched.
tailgaters is to: • Hazardous road conditions. The result is your action and
knowing which strategy is best for
A. Change lanes and let them pass. Be especially alert in areas with the situation. You want to elimi-
B. Use your horn and make obscene limited visibility. Visually “busy” nate or reduce the potential haz-
gestures. surroundings could hide you and ard. You must decide when, where
C. Speed up to put distance be- your motorcycle from others. and how to take action. Your con-
tween you and the tailgater. stant decision making tasks must
D. Ignore them. stay sharp to cope with constantly
Answer - page 46 changing traffic situations.

16 17
The decisions you make can be INTERSECTIONS LARGE INTERSECTIONS
grouped by the types of hazards
you encounter. The greatest potential for conflict
between you and other traffic is at
• Single hazard intersections. An intersection can
• Two hazards be in the middle of an urban area
• Multiple hazards or at a driveway on a residential
street–anywhere traffic may cross
EXECUTE your path of travel. Over one-half
of motorcycle/car crashes are
caused by drivers entering a rider’s
Carry out your decision.
right-of-way. Cars that turn left in
front of you, including cars turning
To create more space and minimize left from the lane to your right,
harm from any hazard: and cars on side streets that pull
into your lane, are the biggest dan-
• Communicate your presence gers. Your use of SIPDE (p. 17) at
with lights and/or horn. intersections is critical.
• Adjust your speed by acceler-
ating, stopping or slowing. There are no guarantees that oth-
• Adjust your position and/or ers see you. Never count on “eye
direction. contact” as a sign that a driver will
yield. Too often, a driver looks
Apply the old adage “one step at a right at a motorcyclist and still
time” to handle two or more haz- fails to “see” him. The only eyes
ards. Adjust speed to permit two that you can count on are your
hazards to separate. Then deal own. If a car can enter your path, As you approach the intersection, BLIND INTERSECTIONS
with them one at a time as single assume that it will. Good riders select a lane position to increase
hazards. Decision making becomes are always “looking for trouble”– your visibility to the driver. Cover
more complex with three or more not to get into it, but to stay out of the clutch and both brakes to
hazards. Weigh consequences of it. reduce reaction time.
each and give equal distance to the
Increase your chances of being Reduce your speed as you
hazards.
seen at intersections. Ride with approach an intersection. After
your headlight on in a lane posi- entering the intersection, move
In potential high risk areas, such tion that provides the best view of away from vehicles preparing to
as intersections, shopping areas, oncoming traffic. Provide a space turn. Do not change speed or posi-
and school and construction zones, cushion around the motorcycle tion radically. The driver might
cover the clutch and both brakes to that permits you to take evasive think that you are preparing to
reduce the time you need to react. action. turn.
SMALL INTERSECTIONS B LIND INTERSECTIONS
5 Test Yourself If you approach a blind intersec-
tion, move to the portion of the
To reduce your reaction time,
you should: lane that will bring you into anoth-
er driver’s field of vision at the ear-
A. Ride slower than the speed limit. liest possible moment. In this pic-
B. Cover the clutch and the brakes. ture, the rider has moved to the Remember, the key is to see as
left portion of the lane–away from much as possible and remain visi-
C. Shift into neutral when slowing. the parked car–so the driver on ble to others while protecting your
D. Pull in the clutch when turning. the cross street can see him as space.
Answer - page 46 soon as possible.

18 19
STOP SIGNS PARKED CARS INCREASING Reflective material on a vest and
CONSPICUITY on the sides of the helmet will help
drivers coming from the side spot
In crashes with motorcyclists, driv- you. Reflective material can also be
ers often say that they never saw a big help for drivers coming
the motorcycle. From ahead or toward you or from behind.
behind, a motorcycle’s outline is
much smaller than a car’s. Also, it’s H EADLIGHT
hard to see something you are not
looking for, and most drivers are The best way to help others see
not looking for motorcycles. More your motorcycle is to keep the
likely, they are looking through the headlight on—at all times
skinny, two-wheeled silhouette in (although motorcycles sold in the
search of cars that may pose a U.S. since 1978 automatically have
If you have a stop sign or stop line, problem to them. the headlights on when running.)
stop there first. Then edge forward Studies show that, during the day,
and stop again, just short of where
Even if a driver does see you com- a motorcycle with its light on is
the cross-traffic lane meets your
lane. From that position, lean your ing, you aren’t necessarily safe. twice as likely to be noticed. Use of
see you. In either event, the driver Smaller vehicles appear farther the high beam during the day
body forward and look around might cut into your path. Slow
buildings, parked cars, or bushes to away, and seem to be traveling increases the likelihood that
down or change lanes to make
see if anything is coming. Just slower than they actually are. It is oncoming drivers will see you. Use
room for someone cutting in.
make sure your front wheel stays common for drivers to pull out in low beam at night and in cloudy
out of the cross lane of travel while Cars making a sudden U-turn are front of motorcyclists, thinking weather.
you’re looking. the most dangerous. They may cut they have plenty of time. Too often,
you off entirely, blocking the whole they are wrong. S IGNALS
P ASSING P ARKED C ARS roadway and leaving you with no
When passing parked cars, stay place to go. Since you can’t tell However, you can do many things The signals on a motorcycle are
toward the left of your lane. You what a driver will do, slow down similar to those on a car. They tell
to make it easier for others to rec-
can avoid problems caused by and get the driver’s attention.
ognize you and your cycle. others what you plan to do.
doors opening, drivers getting out Sound your horn and continue
of cars, or people stepping from with caution.
C LOTHING
between cars. If oncoming traffic is SIGNALING
present, it is usually best to P ARKING AT THE R OADSIDE
remain in the center-lane position Most crashes occur in broad day-
Park at a 90° angle to the curb
to maximize your space cushion. light. Wear bright colored clothing
with your rear wheel touching the
curb. to increase your chances of being
A bigger problem can occur if the seen. Remember, your body is half
driver pulls away from the curb PARKING AT CURBS of the visible surface area of the
without checking for traffic behind. rider/motorcycle unit.
Even if he does look, he may fail to
Bright orange, red, yellow or green
6 Test Yourself
jackets or vests are your best bets
Making e ye contact with other for being seen. Your helmet can do
dr ivers: more than protect you in a crash.
A. Is a good sign they see you. Brightly colored helmets can also
B. Is not worth the effort it takes. help others see you.
C. Doesn’t mean that the driver
will yield. Any bright color is better than
D. Guarantees that the other driver drab or dark colors. Reflective,
will yield to you. bright colored clothing (helmet and
Answer - page 46 jacket or vest) is best.

20 21
However, due to a rider’s added If you are being followed closely, USING MIRRORS also. Only by knowing what is hap-
vulnerability, signals are even it’s a good idea to flash your brake pening all around you, are you
more important. Use them anytime light before you slow. The tailgater fully prepared to deal with it.
you plan to change lanes or turn. may be watching you and not see
Use them even when you think no something ahead that will make H ORN
one else is around. It’s the car you you slow down. This will hopefully
don’t see that’s going to give you discourage them from tailgating Be ready to use your horn to get
the most trouble. Your signal lights and warn them of hazards ahead someone’s attention quickly.
also make you easier to spot. they may not see.
That’s why it’s a good idea to use It is a good idea to give a quick
your turn signals even when what USING YOUR M IRRORS beep before passing anyone that
you plan to do is obvious. may move into your lane.
While it’s most important to keep
When you enter onto a freeway, track of what’s happening ahead, Here are some situations:
drivers approaching from behind you can’t afford to ignore situa-
are more likely to see your signal tions behind. Traffic conditions • A driver in the lane next to you
blinking and make room for you. change quickly. Knowing what’s is driving too closely to the vehi-
going on behind is essential for you Some motorcycles have rounded cle ahead and may want to pass.
Turning your signal light on before to make a safe decision about how (convex) mirrors. These provide a • A parked car has someone in
each turn reduces confusion and to handle trouble ahead. wider view of the road behind than the driver’s seat.
frustration for the traffic around do flat mirrors. They also make • Someone is in the street, rid-
you. Once you turn, make sure Frequent mirror checks should be cars seem farther away than they ing a bicycle or walking.
your signal is off or a driver may part of your normal scanning rou- really are. If you are not used to
pull directly into your path, think- tine. Make a special point of using convex mirrors, get familiar with In an emergency, press the horn
ing you plan to turn again. Use your mirrors: them. (While you are stopped,pick button loud and long. Be ready to
your signals at every turn so driv- out a parked car in your mirror. stop or swerve away from the dan-
ers can react accordingly. Don’t • When you are stopped at an Form a mental image of how far ger.
make them guess what you intend intersection. Watch cars coming away it is. Then, turn around and
to do. up from behind. If the driver look at it to see how close you Keep in mind that a motorcycle’s
isn’t paying attention, he could came.) Practice with your mirrors horn isn’t as loud as a car’s, there-
B RAKE L IGHT be on top of you before he sees until you become a good judge of fore, use it, but don’t rely on it.
you. distance. Even then, allow extra Other strategies may be appropri-
Your motorcycle’s brake light is • Before you change lanes. distance before you change lanes. ate along with the horn.
usually not as noticeable as the Make sure no one is about to
brake lights on a car—particularly pass you. H EAD C HECKS R IDING AT NIGHT
when your taillight is on. (It goes • Before you slow down. The
on with the headlights.) If the situ- driver behind may not expect Checking your mirrors is not At night it is harder for you to see
ation will permit, help others you to slow, or may be unsure enough. Motorcycles have “blind and be seen. Picking your head-
notice you by flashing your brake about where you will slow. For spots” like cars. Before you change light or taillight out of the car
light before you slow down. It is example, you signal a turn and lanes, turn your head, and look to lights around you is not easy for
especially important to flash your the driver thinks you plan to the side for other vehicles. other drivers. To compensate, you
brake light before: turn at a distant intersection, should:
rather than at a nearer drive- On a road with several lanes,
• You slow more quickly than way. check the far lane and the one next Reduce Your Speed– Ride even
others might expect (turning off to you. A driver in the distant lane slower than you would during
a high-speed highway). may head for the same space you the day–particularly on roads
• You slow where others may not plan to take. you don’t know well. This will
expect it (in the middle of a increase your chances of avoid -
block or at an alley). Frequent head checks should be ing a hazard.
your normal scanning routine,

22 23
Increase Distance– Distances are prepared or skilled in crash-avoid - STOPPING DISTANCE S WERVING OR T URNING
harder to judge at night than ance maneuvers. Q UICKL Y
during the day. Your eyes rely
upon shadows and light con- Know when and how to stop or Sometimes you may not have
REAR
trasts to determine how far swerve, two skills critical to avoid - enough room to stop, even if you
away an object is and how fast ing a crash. It is not always desir- use both brakes properly. An object
it is coming. These contrasts are able or possible to stop quickly to might appear suddenly in your
FRONT
missing or distorted under arti- avoid an obstacle. Riders must also path. Or the car ahead might
ficial lights at night. Open up a be able to swerve around an obsta- squeal to a stop. The only way to
three-second following distance cle. Determining the skill neces- BOTH avoid a crash may be to turn
or more. And allow more dis- sary for the situation is important quickly, or swerve around it.
tance to pass and be passed. as well.
Use the Car Ahead– The head- If you must stop quickly, while A swerve is any sudden change in
lights of the car ahead can give Studies show that most crashes turning or riding a curve, the best direction. It can be two quick
you a better view of the road involved riders who: technique is to straighten the turns, or a rapid shift to the side.
than even your high beam can. motorcycle upright first and then Apply a small amount of hand
Taillights bouncing up and • Underbrake the front tire and brake. However, it may not always pressure to the handgrip located
down can alert you to bumps or overbrake the rear. be possible to straighten the on the side of your intended direc-
rough pavement. • Did not separate braking from motorcycle and then stop. If you tion of escape. This will cause the
Use Your High Beam– Get all the swerving or did not choose must brake while leaning, apply motorcycle to lean quickly. The
light you can. Use your high swerving when it was appropri- light brakes and reduce the throt- sharper the turn(s), the more the
beam whenever you are not fol- ate. tle. As you slow, you can reduce motorcycle must lean.
lowing or meeting a car. Be visi- your lean angle and apply more
ble, wear reflective materials The following information offers brake pressure until the motorcy- Keep your body upright and allow
when riding at night. some good advice. cle is straight and maximum brake the motorcycle to lean in the direc-
Be flexible about lane position. pressure is possible. You should tion of the turn while keeping your
Change to whatever portion of Q UICK S TOPS “straighten” the handlebars in the knees against the tank and your
the lane is best able to help you last few feet of stopping, the feet solidly on the pegs. Let the
see, be seen, and keep an ade- To stop quickly, apply both brakes motorcycle should then be straight motorcycle move underneath you.
quate space cushion. at the same time. Don’t be shy up and in balance. Make your escape route the target
about using the front brake, but of your vision. Press on the oppo-
CRASH AVOIDANCE don’t “grab” it, either. Squeeze the site handgrip once you clear the
brake lever firmly and progressive- obstacle to return you to your orig-
No matter how careful you are, ly. If the front wheel locks, release
there will be times when you find the front brake immediately then SWERVE, THEN BRAKE BRAKE, THEN SWERVE
yourself in a tight spot. Your reapply it firmly. At the same time,
chances of getting out safely press down on the rear brake. If
depends on your ability to react you accidentally lock the rear
quickly and properly. Often, a brake on a good traction surface,
crash occurs because a rider is not keep it locked until you have com-
pletely stopped. Even with a locked
rear wheel, you can control the
7 Test Yourself motorcycle on a straightaway if it
Reflective clothing should: is upright and going in a straight
line.
A. Be worn at night.
B. Be worn during the da y. Always use both brakes at the
C. Not be worn. same time to stop. The front brake
D. Be worn day and night. can provide 70% or more of the
Answer - page 46 potential stopping power.

24 25
inal direction of travel. To swerve Every curve is different. Be alert to curve, and as you pass the center, • Railroad tracks
to the left, press the left handgrip, whether a curve remains constant, move to the outside to exit. • Grooves and gratings
then press the right to recover. To gradually widens, gets tighter, or
swerve to the right, press right, involves multiple turns. Another alternative is to move to UNEVEN S URFACES AND
then left. the center of your lane before O BSTACLES
Ride within your skill level and entering a curve–and stay there
IF BRAKING IS REQUIRED, posted speed limits. until you exit. This permits you to Watch for uneven surfaces such as
SEPARATE IT FROM SWERV- spot approaching traffic as soon as bumps, broken pavement, potholes,
ING. Brake before or after–never Your best path may not always fol- possible. You can also adjust for or small pieces of highway trash.
while swerving. low the curve of the road. traffic “crowding” the center line,
or debris blocking part of your
Try to avoid obstacles by slowing
C ORNERING Change lane position depending on lane.
down or going around them. If you
traffic, road conditions and curve
8 Test Yourself must go over the obstacle, first,
A primary cause of single-vehicle of the road. If no traffic is present,
crashes is motorcyclists running start at the outside of a curve to The best w a y to stop quickly is to: determine if it is possible.
wide in a curve or turn and collid- increase your line of sight and the Approach it at as close to a 90°
A. Use the front brake only.
ing with the roadway or a fixed effective radius of the turn. As you angle as possible. Look where you
B. Use the rear brake first. want to go to control your path of
object. turn, move toward the inside of the
C. Throttle down and use the front travel. If you have to ride over the
brake. obstacle, you should:
CONSTANT CURVES MULTIPLE CURVES D. Use both brakes at the same time.
Answer - page 46 • Slow down as much as possible
before contact.
HANDLING DANGEROUS • Make sure the motorcycle is
SURFACES straight.
• Rise slightly off the seat with
Your chance of falling or being your weight on the footpegs to
involved in a crash increases absorb the shock with your
whenever you ride across: knees and elbows, and avoid
being thrown off the motorcycle.
• Uneven surfaces or obstacles • Just before contact, roll on the
• Slippery surfaces throttle slightly to lighten the

OBSTACLES
DECREASING CURVES (TIGHTER TURNS) WIDENING CURVES

26 27
front end. hazardous when wet. When it CROSS TRACKS-RIGHT pavement seams to cross at an
starts to rain, ride in the tire angle of at least 45°.Then, make a
If you ride over an object on the tracks left by cars. Often, the quick, sharp turn. Edging across
street, pull off the road and check left tire track will be the best could catch your tires and throw
your tires and rims for damage position, depending on traffic you off balance.
before riding any further. and other road conditions as
well. G ROOVES AND G RATINGS
S LIPPERY SURFACES • Watch for oil spots when you
put your foot down to stop or CROSS TRACKS-WRONG Riding over rain grooves or bridge
Motorcycles handle better when park. You may slip and fall. grating may cause a motorcycle to
ridden on surfaces that permit • Dirt and gravel collect along weave. The uneasy, wandering feel-
good traction. Surfaces that pro- the sides of the road–especially ing is generally not hazardous.
vide poor traction include: on curves and ramps leading to Relax, maintain a steady speed
and from highways. Be aware of and ride straight across. Crossing
• Wet pavement, particularly just what’s on the edge of the road, at an angle forces riders to zigzag
after it starts to rain and before particularly when making sharp to stay in the lane. The zigzag is
surface oil washes to the side of turns and getting on or off free- far more hazardous than the wan-
R AILROAD T RACKS , T ROLLEY
the road. ways at high speeds. dering feeling.
T RACKS AND P AVEMENT S EAMS
• Gravel roads, or where sand • Rain dries and snow melts
and gravel collect. faster on some sections of a GRATE CROSSINGS-RIGHT
Usually it is safer to ride straight
• Mud, snow , and ice. road than on others. Patches of within your lane to cross tracks.
• Lane markings, steel plates ice tend to crop up in low or Turning to take tracks head-on (at
and manhole covers, especially shaded areas and on bridges a 90° angle) can be more danger-
when wet. and overpasses. Wet surfaces or ous–your path may carry you into
wet leaves are just as slippery. another lane of traffic.
To ride safely on slippery surfaces: Ride on the least slippery por-
tion of the lane and reduce For track and road seams that run
• Reduce Speed– Slow down speed. parallel to your course, move far
before you get to a slippery sur- enough away from tracks, ruts, or GRATE CROSSINGS-WRONG
face to lessen your chances of Cautious riders steer clear of roads
skidding. Your motorcycle needs covered with ice or snow. If you PARALLEL TRACKS-RIGHT
more distance to stop. And, it is can’t avoid a slippery surface, keep
particularly important to reduce your motorcycle straight up and
speed before entering wet proceed as slowly as possible. If
curves. you encounter a larger surface so
• Avoid Sudden Moves– Any sud- slippery that you must coast, or
den change in speed or direction travel at a walking pace, consider
can cause a skid. Be as smooth letting your feet skim along the
as possible when you speed up, surface. If the motorcycle starts to 99 Test Yourself
shift gears, turn or brake. fall, you can catch yourself. Be sure PARALLEL TRACKS-WRONG When it starts to rain it is usu -
• Use Both Brakes– The front to keep off the brakes. If possible,
ally best to:
brake is still effective, even on a squeeze the clutch and coast.
slippery surface. Squeeze the Attempting this maneuver at any- A. Ride in the center of the lane.
brake lever gradually to avoid thing other than the slowest of B. Pull off to the side until the rain
locking the front wheel. speeds could prove hazardous. stops.
Remember, gentle pressure on C. Ride in the tire tracks left by cars.
the rear brake. D. Increase your speed.
• The center of a lane can be Answer - page 46

28 29
MECHANICAL PROBLEMS S TUCK T HROTTLE Trying to “accelerate out of a wob- ENGINE S EIZURE
ble” will only make the motorcycle
You can find yourself in an emer- Twist the throttle back and forth more unstable. Instead: When the engine “locks” or
gency the moment something goes several times. If the throttle cable “freezes” it is usually low on oil.
wrong with your motorcycle. In is stuck, this may free it. If the • Grip the handlebars firmly , The engine’s moving parts can’t
dealing with any mechanical prob- throttle stays stuck, immediately but don’t fight the wobble. move smoothly against each other,
• Close the throttle gradually and the engine overheats. The first
lem, take into account the road operate the engine cut-off switch
sign may be a loss of engine power
and traffic conditions you face. and pull in the clutch at the same to slow down. Do not apply the
or a change in the engine’s sound.
Here are some guidelines that can time. This will remove power from brakes; braking could make the Squeeze the clutch lever to disen-
help you handle mechanical prob- the rear wheel, though engine wobble worse. gage the engine from the rear
lems safely. noise may not immediately decline. • Move your weight as far for- wheel. Pull off the road and stop.
Once the motorcycle is “under con - ward and down as possible. Check the oil. If needed, oil should
T IRE F AILURE trol,” pull off and stop. • Pull off the road as soon as be added as soon as possible or the
you can to fix the problem. engine will seize. When this hap-
You seldom hear a tire go flat. If After you have stopped, check the pens, the effect is the same as a
the motorcycle starts handling dif- throttle cable carefully to find the 910 Test Yourself locked rear wheel. Let the engine
ferently, it may be a tire failure. source of the trouble. Make certain If your motorcycle starts to wobble: cool before restarting.
This can be dangerous. You must the throttle works freely before A.Accelerate out of the wobble.
be able to tell from the way the you start to ride again. ANIMALS
B. Use the brake gradually.
motorcycle reacts. If one of your
C. Grip the handlebars firmly and Naturally, you should do every-
tires suddenly loses air, react WOBBLE close the throttle gradually. thing you safely can to avoid hit-
quickly to keep your balance. Pull ting an animal. If you are in traf-
D. Downshift.
off and check the tires. A “wobble” occurs when the front Answer - page 46 fic; however, remain in your lane.
wheel and handlebars suddenly Hitting something small is less
If the front tire goes flat, the steer- start to shake from side to side at C HAIN P ROBLEMS dangerous to you than hitting
ing will feel “heavy.” A front-wheel any speed. Most wobbles can be something big–like a car.
flat is particularly hazardous traced to improper loading, unsuit- A chain that slips or breaks while
because it affects your steering. able accessories, or incorrect tire you’re riding could lock the rear Motorcycles seem to attract dogs. If
You have to steer well to keep your pressure. If you are carrying a wheel and cause your cycle to skid. you are chased, downshift and
balance. heavy load, lighten it. If you can’t, Chain slippage or breakage can be approach the animal slowly. As you
shift it. Center the weight lower avoided by proper maintenance. approach it, accelerate away and
If the rear tire goes flat, the back and farther forward on the motor- leave the animal behind. Don’t
kick at an animal. Keep control of
of the motorcycle may jerk or sway cycle. Make sure tire pressure, Slippage– If the chain slips when
your motorcycle, and look to where
from side to side. spring pre-load, air shocks, and you try to speed up quickly or
you want to go.
dampers are at the settings recom- ride uphill, pull off the road.
If either tire goes flat while riding: mended for that much weight. Check the chain and sprockets. For larger animals (deer, elk, cat-
Make sure windshields and fair- Tightening the chain may help. tle) brake and prepare to stop, they
• Hold handgrips firmly, ease off ings are mounted properly. If the problem is a worn or are unpredictable.
the throttle, and keep a straight stretched chain or worn or bent
course. Check for poorly adjusted steering; sprockets, replace the chain, the
worn steering parts; a front wheel
911 Test Yourself
• If braking is required, howev- sprockets, or both before riding
that is bent, misaligned, or out of again. If you are chased by a dog:
er, gradually apply the brake of
the tire that isn’t flat, if you are balance; loose wheel bearings or Breakage– You’ll notice an instant A. Kick it away.
sure which one it is. spokes; and swingarm bearings. If loss of power to the rear wheel. B. Stop until the animal loses interest.
• When the motorcycle slows, none of these are determined to be Close the throttle and brake to C. Swerve around the animal.
edge to the side of the road, the cause, have the motorcycle a stop. D. Approach the animal slowly, then
squeeze clutch and stop. checked out thoroughly by a quali- speed up.
fied professional. Answer - page 46

30 31
FLYING OBJECTS CARRYING PASSENGERS I NSTRUCTING P ASSENGERS • Ride a little slower , especially
AND CARGO when taking curves, corners, or
From time to time riders are Even if your passenger is a motor- bumps.
struck by insects, cigarettes Only experienced riders should cycle rider, provide complete • Start slowing earlier as you
thrown from cars, or pebbles carry passengers or large loads. instructions before you start. Tell approach a stop.
kicked up by the tires of the vehi- The extra weight changes the way your passenger to: • Open up a larger cushion of
cle ahead. If you are wearing face the motorcycle handles, balances, space ahead and to the sides.
protection, it might get smeared or turns, speeds up, and slows down. • Get on the motorcycle only after • Wait for larger gaps to cross,
cracked, making it difficult to see. Before taking a passenger or heavy you have started the engine. enter, or merge in traffic.
Without face protection, an object load on the street, practice away • Sit as far forward as possible
could hit you in the eye, face, or from traffic. without crowding you. Warn your passenger of special
mouth. Whatever happens, keep • Hold firmly to your waist, hips, conditions–when you will pull out,
your eyes on the road and your EQUIPMENT or belt. stop quickly, turn sharply, or ride
hands on the handlebars. When • Keep both feet on the pegs, over a bump. Turn your head
safe, pull off the road and repair To carry passengers safely: even when stopped. slightly to make yourself under-
the damage. • Keep legs away from the muf- stood, but keep your eyes on the
• Equip and adjust your motor- fler(s), chains or moving parts. road ahead.
GETTING OFF THE ROAD cycle to carry passengers. • Stay directly behind you,
• Instruct the passenger before leaning as you lean. C ARRYING L OADS
If you need to leave the road to you start. • Avoid unnecessary talk or
check the motorcycle (or just to • Adjust your riding technique motion. Most motorcycles are not designed
rest for a while), be sure you: for the added weight. to carry much cargo. Small loads
Also, tell your passenger to tighten can be carried safely if positioned
• Check the roadside– Make sure Equipment should include: his or her hold when you: and fastened properly.
the surface of the roadside is
firm enough to ride on. If it is • A proper seat– large enough to • Approach surface problems. • Keep the Load Low– Fasten
soft grass, loose sand, or if hold both of you without crowd- • Are about to start from a stop. loads securely, or put them in
you’re just not sure about it, ing. You should not sit any far- • Warn that you will make a sud- saddle bags. Piling loads
slow way down before you turn ther forward than you usually den move. against a sissybar or frame on
onto it. do. the back of the seat raises the
• Signal– Drivers behind might • Footpegs– for the passenger. R IDING WITH P ASSENGERS motorcycle’s center of gravity
not expect you to slow down. Firm footing prevents your pas- and disturbs its balance.
Give a clear signal that you will senger from falling off and Your motorcycle will respond more • Keep the Load Forward– Place
be slowing down and changing pulling you off, too. slowly with a passenger on board. the load over, or in front of, the
direction. Check your mirror • Protective equipment– the The heavier your passenger, the rear axle. Tank bags keep loads
and make a head check before same protective gear recom- longer it will take to slow down, forward, but use caution when
you take any action. mended for operators. speed up, or turn–especially on a loading hard or sharp objects.
• Pull off the road– Get as far off light motorcycle. Make sure tank bag does not
the road as you can. It can be Adjust the suspension to handle interfere with handlebars or
very hard to spot a motorcycle the additional weight. You will controls. Mounting loads behind
by the side of the road. You probably need to add a few pounds the rear axle can affect how the
of pressure to the tires if you carry 912 Test Yourself
don’t want someone else pulling motorcycle turns and brakes. It
a passenger. (Check your owner’s Passengers should:
off at the same place you are. can also cause a wobble.
• Park carefully– Loose and manual for appropriate settings.) A. Lean as you lean. • Distribute the Load Evenly–
sloped shoulders can make set- While your passenger sits on the B. Hold on to the motorcycle seat. Load saddlebags with about the
seat with you, adjust the mirror C. Sit as far back as possible. same weight. An uneven load
ting the side or center stand dif-
and headlight according to the can cause the motorcycle to drift
ficult. D. Never hold onto you.
change in the motorcycle’s angle. Answer - page 46 to one side.

32 33
• Secure the Load– Fasten the • Know the Route– Make sure second rider stays one second Some people suggest that the
load securely with elastic cords everyone knows the route. Then, behind in the right side of the leader should move to the right
(bungee cords or nets). Elastic if someone is separated they lane. side after passing a vehicle. This is
cords with more than one won’t have to hurry to keep not a good idea. It encourages the
attachment point per side are from getting lost or taking a A third rider maintains in the left second rider to pass and cut back
more secure. A tight load won’t wrong turn. Plan frequent stops position, two seconds behind the in before there is a large enough
catch in the wheel or chain, on long rides. first rider. The fourth rider would space cushion in front of the
causing it to lock up and skid. keep a two-second distance behind passed vehicle. It’s simpler and
Rope tends to stretch and knots K EEP YOUR D ISTANCE the second rider. This formation safer to wait until there is enough
come loose, permitting the load keeps the group close and permits room ahead of the passed vehicle
to shift or fall. Maintain close ranks, but at the each rider a safe distance from the to allow each rider to move into
• Check the Load– Stop and same time keep a safe distance to others ahead, behind and to the the same position held before the
check the load every so often to sides. pass.
allow each rider in the group time
make sure it has not worked
and space to react to hazards. A
loose or moved. • Passing in Formation– Riders • Single File-Formation– It is
close group takes up less space on in a staggered formation should best to move into a single-file
GROUP RIDING the highway, is easier to see and is pass one at a time. formation when riding curves,
less likely to be separated. • First, the lead rider should turning, entering or leaving a
If you ride with others, do it in a However, it must be done properly. pull out and pass when it is highway.
way that promotes safety and safe. After passing, the leader
doesn’t interfere with the flow of • Don’t Pair Up– Never operate should return to the left posi-
traffic. directly alongside another rider. tion and continue riding at
913 Test Yourself
There is no place to go if you passing speed to open room for When riding in a g roup ,
K EEP THE G ROUP S MALL have to avoid a car or some- the next rider. inexperienced riders should
thing on the road. To talk, wait • After the first rider passes position themselves:
Small groups make it easier and until you are both stopped. safely , the second rider should A. Just behind the leader.
safer for car drivers who need to • Staggered Formation– This is move up to the left position and B. In front of the group.
get around them. A small number the best way to keep ranks close watch for a safe chance to pass.
isn’t separated as easily by traffic yet maintain an adequate space After passing, this rider should C. At the tail end of the group.
or red lights. Riders won’t always cushion. The leader rides in the return to the right position and D. Beside the leader.
be hurrying to catch up. If your left side of the lane, while the open up room for the next rider. Answer - page 46
group is larger than four or five
riders, divide it up into two or STAGGERED FORMATION GROUP PASSING (STAGE 1) GROUP PASSING (STAGE 2)
more smaller groups.

K EEP THE G ROUP T OGETHER
• Plan– The leader should look
ahead for changes and signal
early so “the word gets back” in
plenty of time. Start lane
changes early to permit every-
one to complete the change.
• Put Beginners Up Front–
Place inexperienced riders just
behind the leader. That way the
more experienced riders can
watch them from the back.
• Follow Those Behind– Let the
tailender set the pace. Use your
mirrors to keep an eye on the
person behind. If a rider falls
behind, everyone should slow
down a little to stay with the
tailender.

34 35
BEING IN SHAPE TO RIDE ALCOHOL IN THE BODY Other factors also contribute to the
way alcohol affects your system.
Alcohol enters the bloodstream Your sex, physical condition and
Riding a motorcycle is a demanding and complex task. Skilled riders pay
quickly. Unlike most foods and bev- food intake are just a few that may
attention to the riding environment and to operating the motorcycle, iden-
tifying potential hazards, making good judgments, and executing decisions erages, it does not need to be cause your BAC level to be even
quickly and skillfully. Your ability to perform and respond to changing road digested. Within minutes after higher. But the full effects of these
and traffic conditions is influenced by how fit and alert you are. Alcohol being consumed, it reaches the are not completely known. Alcohol
and other drugs, more than any other factor, degrade your ability to think brain and begins to affect the may still accumulate in your
clearly and to ride safely. As little as one drink can have a significant effect drinker. The major effect alcohol body even if you are drinking
on your performance. has is to slow down and impair at a rate of one drink per hour .
bodily functions–both mental and Abilities and judgment can be
Let’s look at the risks involved in riding after drinking or using drugs. physical. Whatever you do, you do affected by that one drink.
What to do to protect yourself and your fellow riders is also examined. less well after consuming alcohol.
A 12-ounce can of beer, a mixed
B LOOD ALCOHOL drink with one shot of liquor and a
WHY THIS INFORMATION By becoming knowledgeable about
IS IMPORTANT the effects of alcohol and other C ONCENTRATION 5-ounce glass of wine all contain
drugs you will see that riding and the same amount of alcohol.
Alcohol is a major contributor to substance abuse don’t mix. Take Blood Alcohol Concentration or
positive steps to protect yourself BAC is the amount of alcohol in The faster you drink, the more
motorcycle crashes, particularly
and to prevent others from injur- relation to blood in the body. alcohol accumulates in your body.
fatal crashes. Studies show that
ing themselves. Generally, alcohol can be eliminat- If you drink two drinks in an hour,
40% to 45% of all riders killed in
ed in the body at the rate of almost at the end of that hour, at least one
motorcycle crashes had been drink -
ALCOHOL AND OTHER one drink per hour. But a variety drink will remain in your blood-
ing. Only one-third of those riders
DRUGS IN MO TORCYCLE of other factors may also influence stream.
had a blood alcohol concentration
above legal limits. The rest had OPERATION the level of alcohol retained. The
more alcohol in your blood, the Without taking into account any of
only a few drinks in their system-
No one is immune to the effects of greater the degree of impairment. the other factors, the formula
enough to impair riding skills. In
alcohol or drugs. Friends may brag below illustrates the LEAST
the past, drug levels have been
about their ability to hold their Three factors play a major part in amount of drinks remaining in the
harder to distinguish or have not
liquor or perform better on drugs, determining BAC: bloodstream.
been separated from drinking vio-
lations for the traffic records. But but alcohol or drugs make them
riding “under the influence” of less able to think clearly and per- • The amount of alcohol you con- Total # hours drinks

either alcohol or drugs poses physi- form physical tasks skillfully. sume. drinks LESS since last EQUALS left

cal and legal hazards for every Judgment and the decision-making • How fast you drink. consumed drink in body

rider. process needed for vehicle opera- • Your body weight. - =
tion are affected long before legal
ALCOHOL CONCENTRATION
Drinking and drug use is as big a limitations are reached.
problem among motorcyclists as it
is among automobile drivers. Many over-the-counter, prescrip-
Motorcyclists; however, are more tions, and illegal drugs have side
likely to be killed or severely effects that increase the risk of rid-
injured in a crash. Injuries occur in ing. It is difficult to accurately
90% of motorcycle crashes and 33% measure the involvement of partic-
of automobile crashes that involve ular drugs in motorcycle crashes.
abuse of substances. On a yearly But we do know what effects vari-
basis, 2,100 motorcyclists are ous drugs have on the process
killed and about 50,000 seriously involved in riding a motorcycle. We
injured in this same type of crash. also know that the combined
These statistics are too overwhelm- effects of alcohol and other drugs
ing to ignore. are more dangerous than either is
alone.

36 37
A person drinking: a first offense. legal defense. drink are unable to make a respon-
• Will have an entry on your crim- sible decision. It is up to others to
• 8 drinks in 4 hours would have • Being videotaped as you perform inal history that can follow you step in and keep them from taking
at least 4 drinks remaining in different tests at the police sta- the rest of your life. too great a risk. No one wants to
his/her system. tion. do this–it’s uncomfortable, embar-
• 7 drinks in 3 hours would have • Spending the night in jail with MINIMIZE THE RISKS rassing, and thankless. You are
at least 4 drinks remaining in drunks, thieves, drug addicts, rarely thanked for your efforts at
his/her system. and the like. Your ability to judge how well you the time. But the alternatives are
• Posting a cash bond of $500 or are riding is affected first. often worse.
There are times when larger per- more or paying a bonding fee to Although you may be performing
sons may not accumulate as high a get out. more and more poorly, you think There are several ways to keep
concentration of alcohol for each • Paying a towing fee to a wrecker you are doing better and better. friends from hurting themselves:
drink consumed. They have more for towing your motorcycle from The result is that you ride confi-
blood and other bodily fluids. But the arrest scene. dently, taking greater and greater • Arrange a safe ride– Provide
because of individual differences it • Having a wrecker driver strap risks. Minimize the risks of drink- alternative ways for them to get
is better not to take the chance your motorcycle to his wrecker ing and riding by taking steps home.
that abilities and judgment have and carry it away. before you drink. Control your
• Slow the pace of drinking–
not been affected. Whether or not • Explaining what happened to drinking or control your riding.
Involve them in other activities.
you are legally intoxicated is not your family and employer. • Keep them there– Use any
the real issue. Impairment of judg- • Paying a legal fee to an attorney. D ON ’ T D RINK
excuse to keep them from get-
ment and skills begins well below • Interrupting your life and your ting on their motorcycle. Serve
the legal limit. work to have to appear in court. Don’t Drink– Once you start, your
resistance becomes weaker. them food and coffee to pass the
• Having your fingerprints taken. time. Explain your concerns for
ALCOHOL AND THE LA W • Undergoing an alcohol or drug their risks of getting arrested or
Setting a limit or pacing yourself
dependency evaluation. hurt, or hurting someone else.
are poor alternatives at best. Your
It is against the law to operate a • Get friends involved– Use peer
ability to exercise good judgment is
motor vehicle while intoxicated. In C ONSEQUENCES OF C ONVICTION pressure from a group of friends
one of the first things affected by
Texas, a person with a Blood to intervene.
alcohol. Even if you have tried to
Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of .08 • Have your driver license sus- drink in moderation, you may not
percent or more is legally intoxi- pended for up to 180 days under It helps to enlist support from oth-
realize to what extent your skills
cated. Texas’ Zero Tolerance for the Administrative License have suffered from alcohol’s fatigu- ers when you decide to step in. The
Minors law make it illegal for per- Revocation Program. ing effects. more people on your side, the easi-
sons under 21 to operate a motor • Pay a fine up to $2,000 for the er it is to be firm and the harder it
vehicle (motorcycle) with ANY first DWI conviction. Don’t Ride– If you haven’t con- is for the rider to resist. While you
detectable amount of alcohol in his Subsequent convictions can cost trolled your drinking, you must may not be thanked at the time,
or her system in a public place. up to $10,000. control your riding. you will never have to say, “If only
Doing so constitutes a criminal • Pay court costs from $70 up. I had...”
offense of (Driving Under the • Receive a jail sentence from 72 • Leave the motorcycle home–
Influence of Alcohol by a Minor). hours to 10 years. You may be So you won’t be tempted to ride.
eligible for probation on a first Arrange another way to get
914 Test Yourself
C ONSEQUENCES OF A DWI offense of DWI. home. If you wait an hour for eac h
ARREST • Visit your probation officer week- • Wait– If you exceed your limit, drink before riding:
ly while on probation. wait until your system elimi- A. You cannot be arrested for drink-
A few years ago, DWI offenders • May be required to do volunteer nates the alcohol and its fatigu- ing and riding.
had a good chance of getting off service in your community. ing effects. B. Your riding skills will not be affected.
with a small fine and participation • May be required to attend a DWI C. Side effects from the drinking may
in a DWI class. Today, Texas has a rehabilitation program. STEP IN TO PROTECT still remain.
tough stand against the drinking • May have to pay increased insur - FRIENDS D. You will be okay as long as you
driver and a person arrested for ance rates. ride slowly.
DWI could expect the following on • May have to pay a lawyer for People who have had too much to Answer - page 46

38 39
FATIGUE RIDING TEXAS HIGHW AYS
Riding a motorcycle is more tiring Motorcycling is very popular in your motorcycle won’t let you down
than driving a car. On a long trip, Texas. Before you take to the road, are:
you’ll tire sooner than you would you should know the Texas laws
in a car. Avoid riding when tired. governing motorcycles, and the • Make sure you have the right
Fatigue can affect your control of common sense safety rules. equipment to begin with.
the motorcycle. • Keep your motorcycle in safe rid-
If you have never ridden a ing condition.
• Protect yourself from the ele- motorcycle, you should know that a • Avoid adding accessories or mak-
ments–Wind, cold, and rain motorcycle only looks easy to ride. ing modifications that make
make you tire quickly. Dress Motorcycles are different from your motorcycle harder to han-
warmly. A windshield is worth other vehicles–only two wheels dle.
its cost if you plan to ride long place more demand on the opera-
distances. tor for balance and coordination. EQUIPMENT
• Limit your distance– The motorcycle’s smaller size
Experienced riders seldom try makes it harder for others to see it Texas law requires the following
to ride more than about six in traffic and the rider more vul- equipment on Motorcycles and
hours a day. nerable to injury in a crash. Riding Motor-Driven Cycles:
• Take frequent rest breaks– a motorcycle requires special skills
and knowledge beyond those • Wheel Assembly
Stop, and get off the motorcycle
required for driving a car. • Exhaust System
at least every two hours. • Tail Lamp (1)
• Don’t drink or use drugs– On today’s highways, there are • Stop Lamp (1)
Artificial stimulants often large numbers of motorcycle riders • License Plate Lamp
result in extreme fatigue or and an even larger number of • Rear Red Reflector
depression when they start to automobile drivers who do not • Head Lamp (1)
wear off. Riders are unable to understand how to safely mix in • Motorcycle, Serial, or, Vehicle
concentrate on the task at hand. traffic. This lack of knowledge has Identification Number
resulted in an increase in motorcy- • Horn
cle-related crashes. The key to • Mirror
safety is understanding and learn- • Steering
ing how to share the roadway. • Brakes
• Tires
Knowing all you can about the
motorcycle you ride, or intend to Texas law requires the following
ride, is good preparation for safe equipment on Mopeds:
and enjoyable riding. Learning to
ride off the street in “The Course • Brake
for Motorcycle Riders” is good • Reflector
insurance. When you take to the • Head Lamp
road, you will be able to concen- • Rear Lamp
trate on the traffic because control
of the motorcycle becomes second These are just minimum require-
nature with the proper instruction. ments. To survive in traffic, you
There are plenty of things on the should have a mirror on each side.
highway that can cause you trou- It is also a good idea to have addi-
ble. Your motorcycle should not be tional reflectors on the motorcycle.
one of them. Three ways to be sure

40 41
Motorcycles manufactured after else’s motorcycle to take the road the examiner during the road test. for a motorcycle license.
1975 must be ridden with the test portion of the driver license The vehicle owners must show Minors over the age of 16 who
headlight on. examination must wear a helmet proof of liability insurance for both already have an unrestricted Class
unless he or she is at least 21 vehicles and must pass an on-site A, B, or C driver license are eligi-
Helmet and Passengers– years old and meets the course or safety inspection. This test will be ble for a road test waiver. Minors
Helmets meeting Federal Motor insurance requirements described similar to that described for pas- under the age of 16 can only be
Vehicle Safety Standard #218 above. senger cars in the Texas Drivers licensed to ride a motorcycle with
(FMVSS-218) are required for Handbook. no more than 250cc piston dis-
motorcycle operators and passen- Helmets should also: placement. This restriction is indi-
gers. This requirement applies to An applicant (must be age 16 or cated by the restriction code “I” on
all motorcycles, motor scooters, and • Fit snugly older) who has passed a the driver license. After the person
mopeds regardless of size or num- • Be securely fastened when riding Department of Public Safety reaches the age of 16, the 250cc
ber of wheels. • Be free of defects such as cracks, approved Basic Motorcycle restriction may be removed.
loose padding, frayed straps, or Operator Training Course, and has
Persons at least 21 years old are exposed metal. an unrestricted (not an instruc- Mopeds– The operator of a moped
exempt from wearing a helmet if tional permit) Class A, B, or C must hold a valid license as a
they have completed a A motorcycle operator cannot carry license, can present an MSB-8 moped operator (Class M driver
Department-approved Motorcycle a passenger unless the motorcycle completion certificate or a comple- license with a restriction code of
Operator Training Course or they is equipped with a permanent pas- tion card from a course meeting “K”). A moped is defined as a
are covered with at least $10,000 senger seat. Motorcycle Safety Foundation cur- motor-driven cycle that cannot
in medical insurance. (Proof of riculum standards and receive a exceed 30 mph, does not have an
medical insurance must be a card LICENSING AND waiver of the road test. engine larger than 50cc, and does
or certificate that contains the OPERATION not have manual gear shifting.
name of the insurer, the insurance Texas law requires that the Applicants for a moped operator’s
policy number, and the policy peri- approach for a right turn and the license must be at least 15 years
ADULT M OT ORCYCLE O PERA TOR
od). right turn shall be made as close old.The licensing requirements
L ICENSING as practicable to the right-hand involve a written examination on
Upon application and payment of a curb or edge of the roadway. This traffic laws that apply to the oper-
The operator of a motorcycle on a does not conflict with the material ation of mopeds. No road test
$5 fee, the Department’s
public highway must hold a valid presented elsewhere in this manu- involving the operation of a moped
Motorcycle Safety Unit will issue a
motorcycle license (Class M driver al. A motorcycle positioned to the is required.
helmet exemption sticker to all
license). This requirement also right of center of its lane is com-
persons meeting the motorcycle
applies to operators of motor-driv- plying with the law while still pro- Registration– Every owner of a
training or the medical insurance
en cycles and mopeds. tecting its lane position. motor vehicle, including motorcy-
requirements. The exemption stick-
er should be placed on the bottom cles, motor scooters, and mopeds
To receive a license to operate a R EQUIREMENTS FOR L ICENSING that will be ridden on public road-
center point of the motorcycle
motorcycle, applicants must pass a M INORS ways, must register their vehicle
license plate or on the license plate
written test covering traffic laws through the County Tax Assessor-
bracket.The sticker may not be
pertaining to motorcycles and a Texas law requires that minors, Collector in their county of resi-
transferred from one motorcycle to
road test. The road test may be ages 15 through 17, pass a Basic dence. A license plate must be
another and is only applicable to
waived. Motorcycle Operator Training attached to the rear of the vehicle
the registered owner of the motor-
cycle. Persons operating or riding Course approved by the and must include a sticker show-
upon a motorcycle with a helmet R OAD T EST AND WAIVER Department of Public Safety before ing current registration.
exemption sticker displayed are I NFORMATION applying for a motorcycle license.
presumed to meet the helmet Before taking the course, minors Inspection– All motor vehicles
In order to take a road test, appli- must have successfully completed registered in Texas (including
exemption requirements.
cants must have their own motor- the classroom phase of a driver motorcycles, motor scooters, and
cycle and provide a passenger vehi- education course. A minor must mopeds) must be inspected each
An operator who uses someone
cle and a licensed driver to drive present the MSB-8 before testing year at an Official Motor Vehicle

42 43
Inspection Station. When the • Be shatterproof DISABLED PARKING:
motorcycle passes inspection, an • Be securely fastened
approved certificate must be • Be optically clear State law provides that it is a vio-
placed near the rear license plate. • Resist impact and penetration lation (Class C misdemeanor - up
These certificates are good for one • Not block peripheral vision to $500 fine) for a person to park,
year from the month of inspection. stand, or stop a vehicle (motorcy-
Protection Clothing– The clothes cle) in a disabled person parking
Insurance– All motor vehicle oper- you wear when riding a motorcycle space. The law specifically states:
ators must show proof of liability should protect you from sunburn,
insurance when the vehicle is reg- windburn, rain, dehydration, cold, 1. You may not park in a disabled
istered or inspected, or when and parts of the motorcycle, and parking space unless the vehicle
obtaining an original Texas Driver provide visibility and comfort. In (motorcycle) has a disabled
License. case of a crash, quality riding license plate or a state issued
clothes may prevent or reduce the removable windshield identifi-
BE ROAD READY severity of cuts, abrasions, and cation card;
bodily injury. Quality riding
Studies indicate that in crashes, clothes consist of: 2. You may not use a disabled
motorcycle riders and passengers parking windshield identifica-
are more likely to be seriously • Low-heeled footwear that covers tion card unless transporting
injured or killed than automobile the ankle with no dangling the disabled person to whom it
operators or passengers. Your laces or rings and provides a was issued;
chance of reaching your destina- good grip on the road surface
tion safely is directly related to the and footpegs. 3. You may not lend your wind-
preparation you do before the ride. • Gloves that protect the hands shield identification card to
You need to mentally prepare by from cuts and bruises, blisters, someone else;
being alert, free of stress, sober, cold, wind, and provide better
and ready for riding. grip for control. 4. You may not block an access or
• Brightly colored long-sleeved curb ramp;
Head Protection– A helmet pro- shirt or jacket and long pants Do NOT park
tects you against head injury, that will resist abrasions and fit Additionally, certain municipalities in striped areas
windblast, cold, sunburn, flying comfortably without binding. also prohibit stopping or standing
objects, and hearing loss. Head • Rain suits are recommended in a vehicle (motorcycle) in a disabled Do not park a vehicle (motorcycle)
injuries account for the majority of rainy weather. parking space unless bearing a dis- in striped areas adjacent to handi-
motorcycle fatalities. Without a abled parking windshield identifi- cap parking spaces or in striped
helmet, you are five times more Face Shields– Any motorcyclist cation card or disabled license area in front of entrance to a busi-
likely to sustain a critical head who has been hit in the face by a plate. ness adjacent to a parking space.
injury in a crash. stone or an insect while riding can The striped area is for wheelchair
tell you about the benefits of face lifts. In addition, motorcycles
Eye Protection– Eyeglasses with protection. Studies indicate that should not be parked on sidewalks.
shatterproof lenses protect the motorcycle riders with shields cov- Parking on sidewalks can prevent
eyes but most styles do not seal ering their faces suffer fewer facial a person who is handicapped from
out the wind that makes your eyes injuries than others without a gaining access to a business or
water. Goggles provide eye protec- shield. A face shield should: their residence.
tion and most models protect your
eyes from the wind. A motorcycle • Be securely fastened to the hel-
windshield or fairing alone is not met and be free of scratches.
adequate for eye protection. Eye • Resist impact and penetration.
protection should:

44 45
EARNING YOUR LICENSE O N-C YCLE SKILL T EST • Stop, turn and swerve quick -
ly.
Basic vehicle control and crash- • Make critical decisions and
Safe riding requires knowledge and skill. Licensing tests are the best
avoidance skills are included in on- carry them out.
measurement of the skills necessary to operate safely in traffic. Assessing
cycle test to determine your ability
your own skills is not enough. People often overestimate their own abili-
to handle normal and hazardous Examiners may score on factors
ties. It’s even harder for friends and relatives to be totally honest about
traffic situations. related to safety such as:
your skills. Licensing exams are designed to be scored more objectively.
You may be tested for your ability • Selecting safe speeds to per-
To earn your license, you must pass a knowledge test and an on-cycle skill
to: form maneuvers.
test. Knowledge test questions are based on information, practices, and
• Choosing the correct path and
ideas from this manual. They require that you know and understand road
• Know your motorcycle and staying within boundaries.
rules and safe riding practices. An on-cycle skill test will either be conduct-
your riding limits. • Completing normal and quick
ed in an actual traffic environment or in a controlled, off-street area.
• Accelerate, brake, and turn stops.
safely . • Completing normal and quick
K NOWLEDGE T EST 4. If a tire goes flat while rid - • See, be seen and communicate turns, or swerves.
(Sample Questions) ing , and you must stop , it is with others.
usually best to: • Adjust speed and position to
1. It is MOST important to flash A. Relax on the handlegrips. the traffic situation.
your brake light when: B. Shift your weight toward the
A. Someone is following too closely. good tire.
F REQUENTL Y ASKED Q UESTIONS Course to be eligible to receive a
B. You will be slowing suddenly. C. Brake on the good tire and steer
motorcycle operator’s license.
C. There is a stop sign ahead. to the side of the road.
Q. What is “The Course for Riders of all ages are encouraged
D. Your signals are not working. D. Use both brakes and stop quick-
Motorcycle Riders?” to take it.
ly.
2. The FRONT brake supplies
A. The Basic Motorcycle Operator Q. When and where are the
how much of the potential stop - 5. The car below is waiting to
Training Course teaches the men - courses offered?
ping po wer? enter the intersection. It is best
tal and physical skills that new, or
A. About one-quarter. to:
inexperienced riders need for safe A. Course schedules vary both in
B. About one-half. A. Make eye contact with the driver.
and enjoyable street riding. The days and times offered. Courses
C. About three-quarters. B. Reduce speed and be ready to react.
Advanced Motorcycle Operator are available in more than 40 sites
D. All of the stopping power. C. Maintain speed and position.
Training Course is for the more throughout the state. Call toll free
D. Maintain speed and move right.
experienced rider and teaches in Texas 1-800-292-5787 or (512)
3. To swerve correctly:
more advanced street survival 424-2021 (in Austin) to find the
A. Shift your weight quickly.
skills. Both courses are approved course nearest you.
B. Turn the handlebars quickly.
by the Department of Public Safety
C. Press the handgrip in the direc-
and offered by contracted sponsors Q. What do you get out of the
tion of the turn.
participating in the Texas course?
D. Press the handgrip in the oppo-
Motorcycle Operator Training
site direction of the turn.
Program. A. Course graduates receive a pro-
gram patch, decal, and a course
Q. Who is required to take the completion certificate (MSB-8) that
course? indicates which course was attend-
Answers to Test Yourself (previous pages) ed. The MSB-8, annotated for the
1-C. 2-D. 3-D, 4-A. 5-B. A. Minors, 15 through 17 years basic or advanced course, is recog-
6-C. 7-D. 8-D. 9-C, 10-C, old, must complete the Basic nized by many insurance compa-
Answers to above Knowledge Test:
11-D, 12-A, 13-A, 14-C 1-B. 2-C. 3-C, 4-C. 5-B Motorcycle Operator Training nies for a discount on motorcycle

46 47
liability insurance and is proof of Q. Where can I locate motorcycle
course completion for ticket dis - specific laws?
missal. The MSB-8, annotated for
the basic course, may be accepted A. The DPS Motorcycle Safety
to waive the driver’s license road Unit provides a Texas Motorcycle
test. Laws pamphlet to all requesters.
The information is also incorporat-
Q. Who can become an instructor? ed in the unit’s web page. For more
information contact:
A. To find out about the next avail-
able instructor training course,
contact the Motorcycle Safety Unit.

TEXAS MO TORCYCLE SAFETY UNIT
TEXAS DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY
5805 N Lamar Blvd, Box 4087
Austin, Texas 78773-0257
512/424-2021 or 1/800-292-5787
Web Address: www.txdps.state.tx.us/msb
E-mail: motorcycle.safety@txdps.state.tx.us

Diagrams and drawings used in this manual are for reference only and are
not to correct scale for size of vehicles and distances.

48
For information about driver licenses, call your local
Driver License Office or Driver License Customer Service
at 512/424-2600 or visit the Driver License web page
www.txdps.state.tx.us/administration/dr iver_license_control .

For information about motorcycle operator training
courses, call the Motorcycle Safety Unit at 512/424-2021 or
toll free 1-800-292-5787, email the Motorcycle Safety Unit at
motorcycle.safety@txdps.state.tx.us , or visit the Motorcycle
Safety Unit’s web page, www.txdps.state.tx.us/msb .