How to Practice for Your First Motorcycle Safety Course

There are many benefits to completing a motorcycle safety program. It should be on the checklist of every novice motorcyclist.

Even seasoned riders should consider a motorcycle defensive driving course. They can brush up on existing skills and might even take home new knowledge and skills to stay safe on the road.

There are benefits besides the obvious safety reasons. For example, did you know riders can receive discounts on insurance for taking a safety course? And specialty training courses can help true enthusiasts enhance their existing skills.

Regardless of why you decide to enroll in a safety course, there are a few ways you can prepare yourself. Maybe you can even get some on-the-road practice before that first session.

Review the Basics

While the basics of motorcycle riding will be covered in a motorcycle safety course, it is always good to look at some of the material to be covered before you begin. Not only will you retain the information better, but you might also come across questions that your instructor can answer.

Know What to Do on The Road

Motorcyclists find themselves at an increased risk of injury compared to vehicular motorists. As a result, new riders need to know what is expected of them when taking their motorcycle on the main roads.

Some motorcycle signs are specific to motorcyclists. These signs usually indicate where motorcycles may not drive. But it's also important to know that signs for vehicular motorists also apply to motorcyclists. This includes parking and overtaking restrictions.

These signs will almost certainly be on any written test before acquiring a permit and license.

Additionally, review motorcycle hand signals that help you communicate with other drivers. These are also handy when riding in groups. Hand signals show your intent to:

  • Turn left or right
  • Speed up or slow down
  • Pull off the road

-�among other directional or formation-specific signals. Some of these will be covered in your safety course while others will not, so research beforehand.

Know What Not to Do on The Road

Knowing what you should never do while riding is just as important. Just because you see certain common behaviors among other riders doesn't mean those are safe-or even legal-habits for you to get into.

For example, what would you say if asked, "Can motorcycles split lanes?" If you see riders splitting lanes day in and day out, you may instinctively say yes. However, unless you live in California, you'd be wrong. It is illegal to split lanes except in very specific circumstances in Utah and pending legislation in a few other states.

Some other common mistakes that new riders make on the road include paying too much attention to the speedometer rather than the road, adjusting speed with poor timing, and overconfidently approaching unfamiliar roads without considering potential hazards.

These topics are addressed during a motorcycle defensive driving course, but it's good to drive these concepts home before poor, unsafe habits develop.

Look Up Regulations in your State

Depending on your location, you may even be required to take a motorcycle safety course before pursuing a license.

Some of these laws include equipment requirements. In Tennessee, motorcycles must have a left- and ride-side mirror and a muffler. Headlights must also stay on during daylight hours, which is not required in all states or only in certain circumstances in others.

Motorcycle helmet laws are a good example of how a seemingly simple, straightforward law might vary. It may not be required for Illinois, Iowa, and New Hampshire riders to wear helmets while riding, but that's the law in all other US states. But the law also often varies depending on the rider's age and insurance status.

Therefore, you should review these laws in your state before attending your first course to know what is expected of you.

And if you are ever unsure of what is legally required of you as a motorcyclist, don't hesitate to contact Steelhorse Law for any motorcycle-related questions.

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