Motorcycles (for the purposes of this course, assume that mopeds are included in most cases) present a unique challenge. Like bicycles, they are vehicles. Unlike bicycles, motorcycles are always on the same roads as passenger and commercial vehicles. On top of that, and, unlike bicycles, this includes restricted access highways. Finally, motorcycle riders, like you, are subject to all traffic laws and can receive citations for violating those laws. Consider these rules for driving and sharing the road with motorcyclists:

  • You must NEVER attempt to share a travel lane with a motorcycle. Give the motorcycle the entire width of the lane just as if it were occupied by a regular motor vehicle.
  • Common sense should tell you that motorcyclists are more difficult to see even under the best driving conditions. Be extra vigilant about checking for motorcycles when at intersections or when you change lanes.
  • When driving with a motorcycle behind you, be aware that the motorcycle rider may drift within the travel lane to get a better view up ahead. This is perfectly allowable if they are within their travel lane. As the lead driver, never assume the cyclist is gone if you immediately fail to see them in your rearview mirror. They may just have moved off to the side.
  • Because of their smaller size, motorcycles are harder to gauge with regard to their speed and distance from you. Be absolutely sure you know how far away a motorcycle is before you change lanes or turn across its path.
  • Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and a motorcycle ahead of you. Motorcycles have great stopping power; in addition to that, many cycle drivers don’t use the brake to slow or stop (they will downshift or let up on the throttle), so you won’t get the benefit of seeing brake lights.
  • All vehicles produce wind drafts including yours. Passing too close to a motorcyclist can actually create a gust of wind that can cause the cyclist to lose control.
  • As is the case with other vehicles, maintain your current speed if a motorcyclist passes you. Never accelerate.
  • Under any driving conditions that are less than optimal, increase the four second buffer between your vehicle and motorcyclists. In addition to poor weather, wind, and slick road conditions, watch for poor road surfaces including potholes. Keep your distance. A deep pothole, especially one hidden under a puddle, can easily take out a motorcycle leaving it disabled and directly in your path.

Now, because a motorcycle is a vehicle, albeit also a VRU, and you will use the same roads as will passenger vehicles, you must be aware of your responsibilities. You may not be a licensed motorcyclist now, but you may decide to get a motorcycle license at some point in the future. That said, consider this:

  • If you operate a motorcycle (or moped) on a public road, you must be at least sixteen years old.
  • You must hold a Learner’s License for at least twelve months before you can get a Motorcycle Only License. This, if you are under eighteen.
  • You cannot have a moving violation conviction if you are under eighteen and want a motorcycle license.
  • You must complete an approved motorcycle safety course.
  • If you are a Class E licensed driver, you will get a motorcycle endorsement on your driver’s license.
  • As a motorcycle driver, you must wear a helmet unless you are over twenty one.
  • You must carry medical insurance providing at least ten thousand dollarsu2019 worth of coverage for injuries.
  • You are not required to carry personal injury protection if you drive only a motorcycle.
  • You must register your bike annually and have license tags attached.
  • You cannot use bike or pedestrian paths. A motor cycle is a motor vehicle.

While that takes care of VRUs, there is still more you need to know u2013 or at least remember. Let’s now explore certain vehicles that require unique treatment. First up…

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