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9 Motorcycle Safety Tips for New Drivers

Motorcycle Safety Course
Motorcycle Safety Course – find one near you!

Sunday, May 17 at around 2 p.m., a 20-year-old male motorcyclist collided with a 19-year-old female driver on Fairview Road in Costa Mesa near Adams Avenue. Sadly, the motorcyclist died. (source: Daily Pilot)

This happened in broad daylight on a Sunday afternoon in Costa Mesa. Don’t be naive, folks – a deadly accident can happen anywhere, anytime.

Early reports indicate the motorcyclist was driving at high speeds (which is unfortunately very characteristic of young male drivers, who are notorious rule-benders and risk-takers behind the wheel).

Should – or could – the 19-year-old driver have seen the motorcyclist approaching? Did she turn in front of him, leaving him with not enough time to slow down? Who knows. Evidently there were no drugs or alcohol involved, but at 19 years old she too is a very inexperienced driver. We may never know if anything else could have been done to prevent this accident and save this young man’s life.

What we do know is motorcycles are much more dangerous than cars.

The Institute Insurance for Highway Safety (IIHS) reported that:

  • motorcyclists are 30 times more likely to die in a crash than people in a car, and
  • nearly half of all motorcycle deaths are the result of single-vehicle crashes.

You’re not destined to have accidents or suffer serious injuries riding a motorcycle, but it does happen. The key is to be prepared and avoid risks. According to the IIHS, 48% of fatalities in 2010 involved speeding, and alcohol was a factor in 42%. Eliminate those factors and you’ve already dramatically reduced your risk.

Here are 9 motorcycle safety tips for new drivers from Consumer Reports:

1. Find the proper fitting bike.

When shopping for a bike, start with one that fits you. When seated, you should easily be able to rest both feet flat on the ground without having to be on tiptoes. Handlebars and controls should be within easy reach.

Choose a model that’s easy for you to get on and off the center stand; if it feels too heavy, it probably is. A smaller model with a 250- to 300-cc engine can make a great starter or commuter bike. If you plan on doing a lot of highway riding, you might want one with an engine in the 500- to 750-cc range so you can easily keep up with traffic.

2. Pay more for anti-lock brakes.

A proven lifesaver. You lock up the brakes, you lose all steering control. It’s a no-brainer.

3. Take a motorcycle riding course.

A Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) course will teach you the basics of motorcycle riding, plus important evasive emergency maneuvers. You may even be eligible for an insurance discount!

Find a MSF course near you.

4. Wear a helmet (full-face is best).

Riders without a helmet are 40% more likely to suffer a fatal head injury in a crash, and are three times more likely to suffer traumatic brain injuries than those wearing helmets.

Replace your helmet every 5 years (even if it looks fine), or right away if it has been damaged.

5. Wear proper gear.

That includes a leather or other type of reinforced jacket, gloves, long pants, and over-the-ankle boots. Oh, and don’t forget to protect your eyes with a helmet visor and/or goggles, unless you have a full face helmet.

Yes, even in summertime. Don’t worry, some of those jackets are quite well ventilated. Plus, you’ll look much more legit all decked out in your official motorcycle riding getup.

We recommend at least a few splashes of bright color in your motorcycle riding attire. We’re not talking about making a fashion statement – most automobile drivers who hit motorcyclists said they didn’t see them.

6. Watch out for cars.

According to Consumer Reports:

A recent study by the University of South Florida’s Center for Urban Transportation Research found that in collisions involving a motorcycle and a car, car drivers were at fault 60 percent of the time.

Especially in this day and age where texting and cell phone use are rampant, it is all the more imperative for you to be aware of cars and drive defensively. Do not assume car drivers see you; keep a safe following distance; watch for lane changes and pulling out of side streets or parking lots.

7. Maintain your bike.

Routinely inspect your bike to make sure your brakes work well, your tires are properly inflated, your headlights, brake lights and turn signals work, and your horn sounds. Worn out brakes and improperly inflated tires have a huge impact on your safety.

8. Don’t ride in the rain.

If you must, remember that the most dangerous time is immediately after it starts raining, when oil residue rises and makes the roads super slippery.

9. Watch for debris and hazards.

Sand, wet leaves, rocks, dirt, bumps, potholes, etc. – anything but a smooth terrain can affect your ability to ride your motorcycle safely. If you can’t avoid the hazards, at least slow down significantly. Approach railroad tracks as close to a right angle as possible to avoid skidding.


Please – be sober, alert, undistracted, cautious, and patient – and stay safe on those motorcycles!  

Step 1. Complete our online driver’s education course

Register for our online driver education course. After you complete the required chapters and tests, we will then send you the DMV Certificate of Completion (DL387) that you can take to the DMV when you are ready to take the written test for your learner’s permit.

Our online driver ed course is available to all California residents. You can take our course at your own pace, in your own home in your own time.

Step 2. Study for the DMV written test

You will need to study for the DMV written permit test by reading through the DMV California Driver Handbook. It will benefit you if you take your time and study the handbook so you are comfortable with the information that will be on the test.

Take your time, you don’t want to have to go back to retake the test.

Step 3. Make an appointment at the DMV to take the written exam

It is important that you call ahead of time and schedule an appointment at the local DMV so you can go in and take the written test.

The lines at the DMV are usually very long so you don’t want to waste your time waiting in line. Make sure that you are well prepared for your appointment.

Most DMV’s are open Mondays through Fridays until 5 pm; Some are also open on Saturdays for a few hours so call ahead of time and see which date and times are best for you.

Step 4. Bring necessary documents to the DMV office

  • Complete the application form DL 44, remember the DMV always requires An original to be submitted. Copies will not be accepted in any form, so make sure you have exactly what you need. You can get this form from your local DMV.
  • Have your parents or guardians sign the application form DL 44.
  • Give your right thumbprint.
  • Have your picture taken.
  • Provide your social security #
  • Verify your birth date and legal residence
  • Submit the proper form(s) for Driver Education and/or Driver Training (see below for details)
  • Pay the $28.00 application fee (This fee entitles you to three exams of any type within the 12-month period and pays for both the instruction permit and the driver license. If all requirements are not met within the 12-month period, the application becomes void and all steps must be completed again.)
  • Pass a vision exam, if you need glasses, wear them.
  • Pass a written test, there are 46 questions on the test.
  • You need a passing score of at least 39 correct answers.
  • You have three chances to pass the test. If you fail, you must wait 7 days before taking it again.


Driver Education and Driver Training Form Requirements:

If you are 15  years of age, you will need to bring with you:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education) with form DL 391 (Driver Training Enrollment ) if your school has a contract with a driving school.


  • Form DL 356 or forms OL 237 and OL 238 (Completion of both Driver Education and Driver Training)


  • Submit form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 15 but under 18 years of age, you will need to submit:

  • Form DL 356 or OL 237 (Completion of Driver Education)


  • Form DL 391 or OL 239 (Simultaneous Enrollment in Driver Education and Driver Training)


If you are over 17  but under 18 years of age, you may get your permit without the driver education and driver training certificates however, you will not be able to take the driving test until you turn 18.

Once you pass your written test, you will be issued a provisional permit. You can be issued a permit at age 15, but you cannot take the driving test or be issued a driver’s license until you are 16 years of age.

A parent, guardian, spouse, or adult 25 years of age or older, who has a valid California driver’s license, must be with you when you drive. They must sit in a position that allows them to take control of the vehicle, if necessary. It is illegal for you to drive alone at any time.

Before being eligible to take the driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed driver education
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver’s license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.


If driver education and driver training were taken in a state other than California, DMV will accept either a Secondary Schools Other Than California Schools form DL 33 completed by the out-of-state school or a letter on the out-of-state school’s stationery signed by a school official stating that the courses are equivalent to California’s requirements. Instructional permits issued by another state are not acceptable

Step 5. Complete behind the wheel training

When you pass the written exam:

  • You are required to take your first 2 hours of behind the wheel training with a professional driving instructor.
  •  You may start behind the wheel training with your parent/guardian or other licensed drivers who are 25 years of age or older.
  •  You must further complete four (4) more hours of driving school instruction.
  • Complete fifty (50) additional hours of behind the wheel training with a parent/guardian or any other adult who is 25 years old or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify that you’ve had the 50 hours of practice. It is required that 10 of the 50 hours of training is done in the evening.

Step 6. Take the driving test at the DMV

To be eligible to take your driving test you must:

  • Be 16 years old
  • Have had your permit for a minimum of six months
  • Have completed a driver education course
  • Have completed 6 hours of professional driver training
  • Have completed 50 hours of practice with an adult who is 25 years or older. The adult must have a valid California driver license and certify to the 50 hours of practice. At least 10 of the 50 hours must have been done at night.
  • You will also need to show registration and proof of insurance for the vehicle you will be taking your drive test in.
  •  If you fail your drive test, you must wait two weeks before you can take the test again. You have three chances to pass.
    • Driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee is $6.00.
    • Motorcycle driving (behind-the-wheel) retest fee $6.00.


After you pass your drive test you will be issued an interim license valid for 60 days until you receive your new photo license in the mail. Double-check your address before you leave DMV and tell the DMV representative if you have moved or if your address is incorrect.

If you have not received your license after 60 days, call (916) 657-7790 and they can check on the status for you. Have your interim license with you to provide information when requested.

Step 7. Receive provisional license upon passing the driving test

After you pass the Driving Test, you will be issued a provisional license. Your license will have the following restrictions for the next year: During the first 12 months, you are licensed to drive you must be accompanied by a driver 25 years of age or older if you drive between the hours of 11 p.m. and 5 a.m. or if you have passengers under the age of 20 in the car at any time.

Persons under 18 may not be employed to drive a motor vehicle. When you become 18, the provisional part of your license ends. You may continue to drive as an adult using your photo license, which will expire on your 5th birthday after the date you applied.