Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual

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Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual

  1. 1. Currently, there are nearly348,000 motorcycles on Illinoisroads, and this number isincreasing every year. Becauseof their size and vulnerability ina crash, it is important to takespecial precautions when ridinga motorcycle. Learning and thenpracticing proper cycling skillscan significantly reduce the riskof an accident.This Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual provides infor-mation that will help you learn how to operate yourmotorcycle safely and skillfully. Information needed forthe Illinois Secretary of State motorcycle licenseexams also is included. I hope you will use thisresource not only as a study aid, but as a tool to devel-op your motorcycling skills.In addition to studying this manual when preparing foryour motorcycle exams, please review the IllinoisRules of the Road booklet as well. The booklet pro-vides an overview of important traffic safety laws.Motorcycle riders have the same rights and responsi-bilities as other motorists. By obeying traffic laws andpracticing good motorcycling skills, you will ensurenot only your safety but the safety of others whoshare the road with you.Jesse WhiteSecretary of State ♻ Printed on recycled paper. Printed by authority of the State of Illinois. September 2010 — 50M — DSD X 140.9 800-252-8980 or call: Secretary of State Driver Services facility, tact your local motorcycle licensing or examination, con- MANUAL For more information about OPERATOR MOTORCYCLE ILLINOIS
  2. 2. Currently, there are nearly344,000 motorcycles on Illinoisroads, and this number isincreasing every year. Becauseof their size and vulnerability ina crash, it is important to takespecial precautions when ridinga motorcycle. Learning and thenpracticing proper cycling skillscan significantly reduce the riskof an accident.This Illinois Motorcycle Operator Manual providesinformation that will help you learn how to operateyour motorcycle safely and skillfully. Informationneeded for the Illinois Secretary of State motorcyclelicense exams also is included. I hope you will use thisresource not only as a study aid, but as a tool todevelop your motorcycling skills.In addition to studying this manual when preparing foryour motorcycle exams, please review the IllinoisRules of the Road booklet as well. The bookletprovides an overview of important traffic safety laws.Motorcycle riders have the same rights andresponsibilities as other motorists. By obeying trafficlaws and practicing good motorcycling skills, you willensure not only your safety but the safety of otherswho share the road with you.Jesse WhiteSecretary of State
  3. 3. TABLE OF CONTENTSOverview Crash AvoidanceMotorcycle Classification . . . . . . . . . 2 Quick Stops . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22Instruction Permits . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2 Swerving or Turning Quickly. . . . . . 23License Plates . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3 Cornering . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24Motorcycle Traffic Laws. . . . . . . . . . . 3 Dangerous SurfacesPreparing to Ride Uneven Surfaces and Obstacles . . . 25Helmet Use/Selection . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Slippery Surfaces . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25Eye and Face Protection . . . . . . . . . . 5 Tracks and Pavement Seams. . . . . . 27Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5 Grooves and Gratings. . . . . . . . . . . . 27Know Your Motorcycle Mechanical Problemsand Your Responsibilities Tire Failure. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 27Borrowing and Lending . . . . . . . . . . . 6 Stuck Throttle . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28Get Familiar with the Controls . . . . . 6 Wobble . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28Check Your Motorcycle . . . . . . . . . . . 7 Chain Problems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29Your Responsibilities . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8 Engine Seizure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29Motorcycle Control Obstaclesand Operation Animals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 29Body Position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Flying Objects . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Shifting Gears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 Getting off the Road . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Braking . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Carrying PassengersTurning . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10Keeping Your Distance . . . . . . . . . . . 11 and CargoLane Positions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 11 Equipment . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30Following Another Vehicle . . . . . . . . 12 Instructing Passengers . . . . . . . . . . . 31Being Followed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13 Riding with Passengers . . . . . . . . . . 31Passing and Being Passed . . . . . . . . 13 Carrying Loads . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 31Lane Sharing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Protect Yourself and OthersMerging Vehicles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Group Riding . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 32Vehicles Alongside . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Alcohol and Other Drugs . . . . . . . . . 33SIPDE. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Fatigue . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 36Intersections . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16Passing Parked Cars . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18 Earning Your MotorcycleParking at the Roadside and Curbs 18 LicenseBeing Seen Rider Skill Tests. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 37Clothing . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Required Equipment. . . . . . . . . . . . . 42Headlight . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Knowledge Test —Signals. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19 Sample Questions/Answers . . . . . 44Brake Light. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Motorcycle Rider Safety TrainingUsing Your Mirrors . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20 Program Regional Centers . . . . . . 45Head Checks . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Classification CriteriaHorn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21 Motorcycles, Mopeds . . . . . . . . . . . . 46Riding at Night. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Two-Wheel, and Three-Wheel Motorcycles . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 47 1
  4. 4. OVERVIEWMotorcycle ClassificationIllinois driver’s licenses are classified according to the type andweight of the vehicles to be driven. There are two classifications formotorcycle licenses:Class L: Any motor-driven cycle with lessthan 150cc displacement.Class M: Any motorcycle or motor-driven cycle.To obtain a motorcycleclassification on your driver’slicense, you must pass a separatemotorcycle examination (seepages 37-42). Drivers ages 16 and 17also must successfully complete amotorcycle training course approvedby the Illinois Department ofTransportation (IDOT). Persons age18 and older who successfullycomplete an IDOT Motorcycle RiderEducation Course are not required to pass awritten or driving examination at a DriverServices facility.Instruction PermitsMotor-Driven Cycle — Persons ages 16 and 17 who have successfullycompleted driver education and passed the motorcycle written testmay apply for a 24-month instruction permit to operate a motor-driven cycle (under 150cc). The permit allows driving only duringdaylight hours, under the direct supervision of a licensed motor-driven cycle operator age 21 or older with at least one year drivingexperience.Motorcycle — Persons age 18 or older may apply for a 12-monthinstruction permit to operate a motorcycle other than a motor-drivencycle. The permit allows driving only during daylight hours, under thedirect supervision of a licensed motorcycle operator age 21 or olderwith at least one year driving experience. A 24-month instructionpermit for a Class M license may be issued to an applicant under age18 only after successful completion of an approved driver educationcourse and successful completion of an IDOT Motorcycle RiderEducation Course. 2
  5. 5. Rental/Out-of-State Drivers — A person must have a valid driver’slicense with the appropriate motorcycle classification to rent amotorcycle or motor-driven cycle. Out-of-state drivers may drive forthe period during which they are in Illinois, provided they have a validdriver’s license for motorcycle operation from their home state orcountry.Moped Operators — Mopeds are low-speed, two-wheeled vehicles.They can be pedaled like a bicycle or driven like a motorcycle.Mopeds are intended for limited use on public roadways. Mopeddrivers must carry a valid driver’s license and obey all signs, signalsand traffic laws. If the moped meets all four criteria listed on page 46,the moped operator is not required to obtain a motor-driven cycleclassification.License PlatesAll motorcycles and motor-driven cycles must have a license platewhen operated on streets or highways. Different license plate seriesare assigned to motorcycles and motor-driven cycles; therefore, thecorrect piston displacement must appear on your license plateregistration application. If trading from one classification to another(less than 150cc or 150cc and over), the license plate must be sent tothe Secretary of State, along with applications for transfer, title andthe appropriate fee.Motorcycle Traffic LawsMotorcycle drivers must obey all traffic laws, signs and signals in thesame way as other drivers. Motorcycle drivers are prohibited frompassing between two other vehicles going in the same direction unlessthere is an unobstructed traffic lane available to permit such passingsafely. They also are prohibited from passing on the right unless thereis unobstructed pavement at least 8-feet wide to the right of thevehicle being passed. Any person who operates a motorcycle on onewheel is guilty of reckless driving.PREPARING TO RIDEBefore taking off on any trip, asafe rider makes a point to:• Wear the right gear.• Become familiar with the motorcycle.• Check the motorcycle equipment.• Be a responsible rider. 3
  6. 6. You have a far better chance of avoiding serious injury in a crash if youwear:• Helmet (A helmet is not required under Illinois law; however, a rider who wears a properly fitted helmet greatly reduces the chance of a fatal head injury in an accident.)• Face or eye protection, and• Protective clothing.Helmet Use/SelectionMotorcycle crashes are common, particularly among beginning riders.One out of every five motorcycle crashes results in head or neckinjuries. Crash analyses show that head and neck injuries account fora majority of serious and fatal injuries to motorcyclists. Research alsoshows that, with few exceptions, head and neck injuries are reducedby the proper wearing of an approved helmet.Some riders do not wear helmets because they think helmets will limittheir view to the sides. Others wear helmets only on long trips orwhen riding at high speeds. Following are some facts to consider:• An approved helmet lets you see as far to the sides as necessary. A study of more than 900 motorcycle crashes, where 40 percent of the riders wore helmets, did not find even one case in which a helmet kept a rider from spotting danger.• Most crashes happen on short trips (less than five miles long), just a few minutes after starting out.• Most riders are riding slower than 30 mph when a crash occurs. At these speeds, helmets can cut both the number and the severity of head injuries by half.No matter what the speed, helmeted riders are three times more likelyto survive head injuries than those not wearing helmets at the time ofthe crash.There are two primary types of Helmetshelmets providing two levels ofcoverage: three-quarter and full face.You get the most protection by makingsure that any helmet:• Meets U.S. Department of Transportation and state standards.• Fits snugly all the way around.• Has no obvious defects, such as cracks, loose padding or frayed straps.Whatever helmet you wear, keep it securely fastened on your headwhen you ride. Otherwise, if you are involved in a crash, it is likely tofly off your head. 4
  7. 7. Eye and Face ProtectionA plastic, shatter-resistant faceshield can help protect your whole facein a crash. It also protects you from wind, dust, dirt, rain, insects andpebbles thrown from cars ahead. These problems are distracting andcan be painful, and divert your attention from concentrating on theroad.Goggles protect your eyes, although they will not protect the rest ofyour face like a faceshield does. A windshield is not a substitute for afaceshield or goggles. Most windshields will not protect your eyesfrom the wind. Neither will eyeglasses or sunglasses. Glasses will notkeep your eyes from watering and they may blow off when you turnyour head while riding.To be effective, eye or faceshield protection must:• Be free of scratches.• Be resistant to penetration.• Give a clear view to either side.• Fasten securely so it does not blow off.• Permit air to pass through to reduce fogging.• Permit enough room for eyeglasses or sunglasses, if needed.Tinted eye protection should not be worn at night or any other timewhen little light is available.ClothingThe right clothing protects you in a crash. It also provides comfort aswell as protection from heat, cold, debris, and hot and moving partsof the motorcycle.• Jacket and pants should cover arms and legs completely. They should fit snugly enough to keep from flapping in the wind, yet loosely enough to move freely. Leather offers the most protection. Sturdy synthetic material also provides a lot of protection. Wear a jacket even in warm weather to prevent dehydration. Many are designed to protect without getting you overheated, even on summer days.• Boots or shoes should be high and sturdy enough to 1. Test Yourself cover your ankles and give A plastic, shatter-resistant face shield: them support. Soles should a. Is not necessary if you have a be made of hard, durable, windshield. slip-resistant material. Keep b. Only protects your eyes. heels short so they do not c. Helps protect your whole face. catch on rough surfaces. d. Does not protect your face as Tuck in laces so they won’t well as goggles. catch on your motorcycle. Answer — page 44 5
  8. 8. • Gloves allow a better grip and help protect your hands in a crash. Your gloves should be made of leather or similar durable material.In cold or wet weather, your clothes should keep you warm and dry,as well as protect you from injury. Riding for long periods in coldweather can cause severe chill and fatigue. A winter jacket shouldresist wind and fit snugly at the neck, wrists and waist. Good-qualityrainsuits designed for motorcycle riding resist tearing apart orballooning up at high speeds.KNOW YOUR MOTORCYCLEAND YOUR RESPONSIBILITIESMany things on the highway can cause you trouble. Your motorcycleshould not be one of them. To make sure your motorcycle won’t letyou down:• Read the owner’s manual first.• Start with the right motorcycle for you. Your motorcycle should fit you. Your feet should reach the ground while you are seated on the motorcycle.• Be familiar with the motorcycle controls.• Check the motorcycle before every ride.• Keep it in safe riding condition between rides.• Avoid add-ons and modifications that make your motorcycle harder to handle.Borrowing and LendingBorrowers and lenders of motorcycles beware. Crashes are fairlycommon among beginning riders, especially in the first months ofriding. Riding an unfamiliar motorcycle adds to the problem. If youborrow a motorcycle, get familiar with it in a controlled area. And ifyou lend your motorcycle out, make sure the driver is licensed andknows how to ride.No matter how experienced you may be, ride extra carefully on anymotorcycle that is new or unfamiliar to you. More than half of allcrashes occur on motorcycles ridden by the operator with less thansix months of experience. 2. Test YourselfGet Familiar with theControls More than half of all crashes:Familiarize yourself a. Occur at speeds greater than 35 mph.completely with the b. Happen at night. c. Are caused by worn tires.motorcycle and review the d. Involve riders who have ridden theirowner’s manual before you motorcycles less than six months.take the motorcycle out onthe street (see diagram on Answer — page 44page 7). This is particularly 6
  9. 9. important if you are riding a borrowed motorcycle.If you are going to use an unfamiliar motorcycle:• Make all the checks you would on your own motorcycle.• Find out where everything is, particularly the turn signals, horn, headlight switch, fuel-control valve and engine cut-off switch. Find and operate these items without having to look for them.• Know the gear pattern. Work the throttle, clutch and brakes a few times before you start riding. All controls react a little differently.• Ride very cautiously and be aware of your surroundings.• Accelerate gently, take turns more slowly and leave extra room for stopping. Motorcycle Controls Engine Cut-Off Switch Throttle Horn Speedometer and Odometer Ignition Key Front Brake Lever Light Switch Electric (High-Low) Start Button Right Turn Signal Left Turn Clutch Switch Signal SwitchLever Tachometer (if equipped) Rear Brake Pedal Fuel Supply Valve Kick Starter Gear Change Lever (if equipped)Check Your MotorcycleA motorcycle needs more frequent attention than a car. If something iswrong with the motorcycle, you will want to find out about it before youget in traffic. Make a complete check of your motorcycle before everyride. Before mounting the motorcycle, make the following checks:• Tires — Air pressure, general wear and tread.• Fluids — Oil and fluid levels. At a minimum, check hydraulic fluids and coolants weekly. Look under the motorcycle for signs of an oil or gas leak.• Headlights and Taillight — Test your switch to make sure both high and low beams are working. 7
  10. 10. • Turn Signals — Turn on both turn signals. Make sure all lights are working properly.• Brake Light — Try both brake controls, and make sure each one turns on the brake light.Once you have mounted the motorcycle, complete the followingchecks before starting out:• Clutch and Throttle — Make sure they work smoothly. The throttle should snap back when you let go. The clutch should feel tight and smooth.• Mirrors — Clean and adjust both mirrors before starting. It is difficult to ride with one hand while you try to adjust a mirror. Adjust each mirror so you can see the lane behind you and as much as possible of the lane next to you. When properly adjusted, a mirror may show the edge of your arm or shoulder, but it is the road behind and to the side that is most important.• Brakes — Try the front and rear brake levers one at a time. Make sure each one feels firm and holds the motorcycle when the brake is fully applied.• Horn — Try the horn to make sure it works.In addition to the checks you should make before every trip, checkthe following items at least once a week: wheels, cables, fasteners andfluids. Follow your owner’s manual for recommendations.Your ResponsibilitiesAs a motorcycle rider, you cannot be sure that other motorists willsee you or yield the right of way. To lessen your risk of a crash:• Be visible — wear proper clothing, use your headlight, ride in the best lane position to see and be seen.• Communicate your intentions — use the proper signals, brake light and lane position.• Maintain an adequate space cushion — following, being followed, lane sharing, passing and being passed.• Scan your path of travel 12 seconds ahead.• Identify and separate multiple hazards.• Be prepared to act — remain alert and know how to carry out proper crash-avoidance skills.The ability to ride aware, make critical decisions and carry them outseparates responsible riders from all the rest. Remember, it is up toyou to keep from being the cause of, or an unprepared participant in,any crash.MOTORCYCLE CONTROL AND OPERATIONThis manual cannot teach you how to control direction, speed orbalance. Those are things you can learn only through practice. But 8
  11. 11. control begins with knowing your abilities and riding within them,along with knowing and obeying the rules of the road.Body PositionTo control a motorcycle well, follow these guidelines:• Posture — Sit so you can use your arms to steer the motorcycle rather than to hold yourself up.• Seat — Sit far enough forward so your arms are slightly bent when you hold the handlegrips so you press on the handlebars without having to stretch.• Hands — Hold the handlegrips Holding Handlegrips firmly to keep your grip over rough surfaces. Start with your RIGHT right wrist flat. This will help you keep from accidentally using too much throttle. Also, adjust the handlebars so your hands are even with or below your elbows in order to use the proper muscles for precision steering. WRONG• Knees — Keep your knees against the gas tank to help you keep your balance as the motorcycle turns.• Feet — Keep your feet firmly on the footpegs to maintain balance. Do not drag your feet. If your foot catches on something, you could be injured and it could affect your control of the motorcycle. Keep your feet near the controls so you can get to them fast if needed. Also, don’t let your toes point downward — they may get caught between the road and the footpegs.Shifting GearsThere is more to shifting gears than simply getting the motorcycle topick up speed smoothly. Learning to use the gears when downshifting,turning or starting on hills is important for safe motorcycle operation.• Shift down through the gears with the clutch as you slow or stop. Remain in first gear while you are stopped so you can move out quickly if you need to.• Make certain you are riding slowly enough when you shift into a lower gear. If not, the motorcycle will lurch and the rear wheel may skid.• Use the brakes to slow enough before downshifting when riding downhill or shifting into first gear. Work toward a smooth, even clutch release, especially when downshifting.• It is best to change gears before entering a turn. However, sometimes shifting while in the turn is necessary. If so, remember to do so smooth- ly. A sudden change in power to the rear wheel may cause a skid. 9
  12. 12. BrakingYour motorcycle has two brakes: one each for the front and rearwheel. Use both of them at the same time. The front brake is morepowerful and can provide at least three-quarters of your totalstopping power. The front brake is safe to use if used properly.• Use both brakes every time you slow or stop. Using both brakes for even normal stops will permit you to develop the proper habit or skill of using both brakes properly in an emergency. Squeeze the front brake and press down on the rear. Grabbing at the front brake or jamming down on the rear can cause the brakes to lock, resulting in control problems.• If you know the technique, using both brakes in a turn is possible, although it should be done very carefully. When leaning the motorcycle some of the traction is used for cornering; less traction is available for stopping. A skid can occur if you apply too much brake. Also, using the front brake incorrectly on a slippery surface may be hazardous. Use caution and squeeze the brake lever — never grab.• Some motorcycles have integrated braking systems that link the front and rear brakes together by applying the rear brake pedal. (Consult the owner’s manual for a detailed explanation on the operation and effective use of these systems.) Normal Turns In normal turns, the Slow Turning rider and the motorcycle should lean together at the same angle. In slow tight turns, counterbalance by leaning the motorcycle only and keeping your body straight.TurningApproach turns and curves with caution. Riders often try to take curvesor turns too fast. When they can’t hold the turn, they end up crossinginto another lane of traffic or going off the road. Or, they overreact andbrake too hard, causing a skid and loss of control. Use the followingfour steps for better control:1. SLOW — Reduce speed before the turn by closing the throttle and, if necessary, applying both brakes.2. LOOK — Look through the turn to where you want to go. Turn just your head, not your shoulders, and keep your eyes level with the horizon. 10
  13. 13. 3. LEAN — To turn the motorcycle must lean. To lean the motorcycle, press on the handlegrip in the direction of the turn. Press left, lean left, go left. Press right, lean right, go right. Higher speeds and/or tighter turns require the motorcycle to lean more.4. ROLL — Roll on the throttle through the turn to stabilize suspension. Maintain steady speed or accelerate gradually through the turn. This will help keep the motorcycle stable.Keeping Your DistanceThe best protection you can have on the road is distance — acushion of space — all around your motorcycle. If someone elsemakes a mistake, distance permits you time to react and space tomaneuver.Lane Positions Lane PositionsIn some ways the size of themotorcycle can work to youradvantage. Each traffic lanegives a motorcycle threepaths of travel. Your laneposition should:• Increase your ability to see and be seen.• Avoid others’ blind spots.• Avoid surface hazards.• Protect your lane from other drivers.• Communicate your intentions.• Avoid wind blast from other vehicles.• Provide an escape route.Select the appropriate path to maximize your space cushion and makeyourself more easily seen by others on the road.In general, there is no single best lane position for riders to be seenand to maintain a space cushion around the motorcycle. No portion ofthe lane need be avoided, including the center.Position yourself in the portion of the lane where you are most likelyto be seen and you can maintain a space cushion around you. Changeposition as traffic situations change. Ride in path 2 or 3 if vehicles andother potential problems are on your left only. Remain in path 1 or 2 ifhazards are on your right only. If vehicles are being operated on bothsides of you, the center of the lane, path 2, is usually your best option(see illustration above).The oily strip in the center portion that collects drippings from cars is 11
  14. 14. usually no more than two feet wide. Unless the road is wet, theaverage center strip permits adequate traction to ride on safely. Youcan operate to the left or right of the grease strip and still be withinthe center portion of the traffic lane. Avoid riding on big build-ups ofoil and grease usually found at busy intersections or toll booths.Following Another VehicleFollowing too closely could be a factor in crashes involvingmotorcyclists. In traffic, motorcycles need as much distance to stop ascars. Normally, a minimum four-second following distance should bemaintained behind the vehicle ahead. To gauge your following distance:• Pick out a marker, such as a pavement marking or lamp post, on or near the road ahead.• When the rear bumper of the vehicle ahead passes the marker, count off the seconds: one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two.• If you reach the marker before you reach a count of four, you are following too closely. FollowingA four-second following distance leaves a minimum amount of spaceto stop or swerve if the driver ahead stops suddenly. It also permits abetter view of potholes and other hazards in the road.A larger cushion of space is needed if your motorcycle will take longerthan normal to stop. If thepavement is slippery, if youcannot see through the 3. Test Yourselfvehicle ahead, or if traffic is When riding you should:heavy and someone may a. Turn your head and shoulders.squeeze in front of you, b. Keep your arms straight.increase your following c. Keep your knees away from thedistance. gas tank. d. Turn just your head and eyes to look where you are going.Keep well behind the vehicleahead even when you are Answer — page 44stopped. This will make it 12
  15. 15. easier to get out of the way if someone bears down on you from behind.It will also give you a cushion of space if the vehicle ahead starts to backup for some reason.When behind a vehicle, ride where the driver can see you in the rearviewmirror. Riding in the center portion of the lane should put your image in themiddle of the rearview mirror where a driver is most likely to see you (seeillustration on page 12).Riding at the far side of a lane may permit a driver to see you in asideview mirror; however, most drivers don’t look at the sideviewmirrors as often as they check the rearview mirror. If the trafficsituation allows, the center portion of the lane is usually the bestplace for you to be seen by the drivers ahead and to prevent lanesharing by others.Being FollowedSpeeding up to lose someone following too closely only ends up withsomeone tailgating you at a higher speed. A better way to handletailgaters is to get them in front of you. When someone is following tooclosely, change lanes and let them pass. If you cannot do this, slow downand open up extra space ahead of you to allow room for both you and thetailgater to stop. This will also encourage them to pass. If they do notpass, you will have given yourself and the tailgater more time and spaceto react in case an emergency does develop ahead.Passing and Being Passed PassingBe sure other drivers see you and that yousee potential hazards when passing andbeing passed.Passing — When passing, follow these steps:1. Ride in the left portion of the lane at a safe following distance to increase your line of sight and make you more visible. Signal and check for oncoming traffic. Use your mirrors and turn your head to look for traffic behind.2. When safe, move into the left lane and accelerate. Select a lane position that does not crowd the car you are passing and provides space to avoid hazards in your lane.3. Ride through the blind spot as quickly as possible.4. Signal again and complete mirror and headchecks before returning to your original lane and then cancel the signal. Remember, passes must be completed within posted speed limits and only where permitted. Know your signs and road markings. 13
  16. 16. Being Passed — When you are being passed, stay in the centerportion of your lane. Riding any closer to the passing vehicle couldput you in a hazardous situation. Avoid being hit by: • The other vehicle — A slight mistake Being Passed by you or the passing driver could cause a sideswipe. • Extended mirrors — Some drivers forget that their mirrors hang out farther than their fenders. • Objects thrown from windows — Even if the driver knows you are there, a passenger may not see you and might toss something on you or the road ahead of you. • Blasts of wind from larger vehicles — They can affect your control. You have more room for error if you are in the middle portion when hit by this blast than if you are on either side of the lane.Do not move into the portion of the lane farthest from the passingvehicle. It may invite the other driver to cut back into your lane tooearly.Lane SharingAutomobiles and motorcycles need a full lane to operate safely. Lanesharing is usually prohibited. Riding between rows of stopped ormoving cars in the same lane can leave you vulnerable to theunexpected. A hand could come out of a window; a door could open; acar could turn suddenly. Discourage lane sharing by others. Keep acenter-portion position whenever drivers might be tempted tosqueeze by you. Drivers are most tempted to do this:• In heavy, bumper-to-bumper traffic.• When they want to pass you.• When you are preparing to turn at an intersection.• When you are getting in an exit lane or leaving a highway.Merging Vehicles MergingDrivers on an entrance ramp may not seeyou on the highway. Give them plenty ofroom. Change to another lane if one isopen. If there is no room for a lane change,adjust speed to open up space for themerging driver. 14
  17. 17. Vehicles Alongside Blind SpotsDo not ride next to vehicles in other lanes if youdo not have to. You might be in the blind spot of avehicle in the next lane, which could switch intoyour lane without warning. Vehicles in the nextlane also block your escape if you come upondanger in your own lane. Speed up or drop back tofind a place clear of traffic on both sides.Scan, Identify, Predict, Decide, Execute (SIPDE)Good experienced riders remain aware of what is going on aroundthem. They improve their riding strategy by using SIPDE, a five-stepprocess used to make appropriate judgements, and apply themcorrectly in different traffic situation.Scan — Search aggressively ahead, to the sides and behind to avoidpotential hazards even before they arise. How assertively you searchand how much time and space you have can eliminate or reduceharm. Focus even more on finding potential escape routes in oraround intersections, shopping areas, school zones and constructionzones.Be especially alert in areas with limited visibility. Visually busysurroundings could hide you and your motorcycle from others.Scan for:• Oncoming traffic that may turn left in front of you.• Traffic coming from the left and right.• Traffic approaching from behind.• Hazardous road conditions.Identify — Locate hazards and potential conflicts.• Vehicles and other motorcycles may move into your path and increase the likelihood of a crash.• Pedestrians and animals may be unpredictable and make short, quick moves.• Stationary objects like potholes, guard rails, 4. Test Yourself bridges, roadway signs, Usually, a good way to handle hedges or trees will not tailgaters is to: move into your path but a. Change lanes and let them pass. may influence your riding b. Use your horn and make obscene strategy. gestures. c. Speed up to put distance between you and the tailgater.Predict — Consider speed, d. Ignore them.distance and direction of Answer — page 44hazards to anticipate how 15
  18. 18. they may affect you. Cars moving into your path are more critical thanthose moving away or remaining stationary. Predict where a collisionmay occur. Completing this “what if...?” phrase to estimate results ofcontacting or attempting to avoid a hazard depends on yourknowledge and experience.Decide — Determine what you need to do based on your prediction.The mental process of determining your course of action depends onhow aggressively you searched. The result is your action and knowingwhich strategy is best for the situation. You want to eliminate orreduce the potential hazard. You must decide when, where and how totake action. Your constant decision-making tasks must stay sharp tocope with constantly changing traffic situations.The decisions you make can be grouped by types of hazards youencounter:• One hazard• Two hazards• Multiple hazardsExecute — Carry out your decision. To create more space andminimize harm from any hazard:• Communicate your presence with lights and/or horn.• Adjust your speed by accelerating, stopping or slowing.• Adjust your position and/or direction.Apply the old adage, “one step at a time,” to handle two or morehazards. Adjust speed to permit two hazards to separate. Then dealwith them one at a time as single hazards. Decision-making becomesmore complex with three or more hazards. Weigh the consequences ofeach and give equal distance to hazards.In potential high-risk areas, school zones and construction zones,cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce the time you need to react.IntersectionsThe greatest potential forconflict between you and other 5. Test Yourselftraffic is at intersections. Anintersection can be in the To reduce your reaction time, youmiddle of an urban area or at a should: a. Ride slower than the speed limit.driveway on a residential street b. Cover the clutch and brakes.— anywhere traffic may cross c. Shift into neutral when slowing.your path of travel. Over one- d. Pull the clutch when turning.half of motorcycle/automobilecrashes are caused by drivers Answer — page 44entering a rider’s right-of-way. 16
  19. 19. Vehicles that turn left in front of you, Small Intersectionincluding those turning left from the laneto your right, and those on side streetsthat pull into your lane, are the biggestdangers. Using SIPDE (see pages 15-16) atintersections is critical.There are no guarantees that others seeyou. Never count on eye contact as asign that a driver will yield. Too often, adriver looks right at a motorcyclist and still fails to see him/her. Theonly eyes that you can count on are your own. If a car can enter yourpath, assume that it will. Good riders are always looking for troublenot to get into it, but to stay out of it.Increase your chances of being seen at intersections. Ride with yourheadlight on in a lane position that provides the best view ofoncoming traffic. Provide a space cushion around the motorcycle thatpermits you to take evasive action. Large Intersection Large Intersections — As you approach the intersection, select a lane position to increase your visibility to the driver. Cover the clutch and both brakes to reduce reaction time. Reduce your speed as you approach an intersection. After entering the intersection, move away from vehicles preparing to turn. Do not change speed or position radically. The driver might think you are preparing to turn.Blind Intersections — If you approach a blind intersection, move tothe portion of the lane that willbring you into another driver’s Blind Intersectionfield of vision at the earliestpossible moment. In theillustration at right, the rider hasmoved to the left portion of thelane, away from the parked car, sothe driver on the cross street cansee him/her as soon as possible.Remember, the key is to see asmuch as possible and remainvisible to others while protectingyour space. 17
  20. 20. Blind Intersection If you have a stop sign or stop line, stop there first. Then edge forward and stop again, just short of where the cross-traffic lane meets your lane (see illustration). From that position, lean your body forward and look around buildings, parked cars or bushes to see if anything is coming. Make sure your front wheel stays out of the cross lane of travel while you are looking.Passing Parked CarsWhen passing parked cars, stay toward the left Parked Carsof your lane. You can avoid problems caused bydoors opening, drivers getting out of cars orpeople stepping from between cars. If oncomingtraffic is present, it is usually best to remain inthe center-lane position to maximize your spacecushion.A bigger problem can occur if the driver pullsaway from the curb without checking for trafficbehind. Even if the driver does look, he/she mayfail to see you.In either event, the driver might cut into yourpath. Slow down or change lanes to make room for someone cuttingin.Vehicles making a sudden U-turn are the most dangerous. They maycut you off entirely, blocking the entire roadway and leaving you withno place to go. Because you cannot tell what adriver will do, slow down and get the driver’s Parkingattention. Sound your horn and continue withcaution.Parking at the Roadside and CurbsPark at a 90-degree angle to the curb with therear wheel touching the curb.BEING SEENIn crashes with motorcyclists, drivers often say they never saw themotorcycle. From ahead or behind, a motorcycle’s outline is muchsmaller than that of another vehicle. Also, it is difficult to seesomething you are not looking for, and most drivers are not lookingfor motorcycles. More likely, they are looking through the skinny, two-wheeled silhouette in search of cars that may pose a problem to them. 18
  21. 21. Even if a driver does see you coming, you are not necessarily safe.Smaller vehicles appear farther away and seem to be traveling slowerthan they actually are. It is common for drivers to pull out in front ofmotorcyclists, thinking they have plenty of time. Too often, they arewrong.You can do many things to make it easier for others to recognize youand your motorcycle:ClothingMost crashes occur in broad daylight. Wear bright-colored clothing toincrease your chances of being seen. Remember, your body is half ofthe visible surface area of the rider/motorcycle unit.Bright orange, red, yellow or green jackets or vests are your bestoptions for being seen. Your helmet can do more than protect you in acrash. Brightly colored helmets also may help others see you. Anybright color is better than drab or dark colors. Reflective, bright-colored clothing (helmet and jacket or vest) is best.Reflective material on a vest and on the sides of the helmet will helpdrivers coming from the side to spot you. Reflective material also canbe a big help for drivers coming toward you or from behind.HeadlightThe best way to help others see your motorcycle is to keep theheadlight on at all times (although motorcycles sold in the U.S. since1978 automatically have the headlights on when running). Illinois lawrequires that the headlight be on when operating on streets andhighways.Use of the high beam during the day increases the likelihood thatoncoming drivers will see you. Use the low beam at night and incloudy weather.SignalsThe signals on a motorcycle are similar to those on a car. They tellothers what you plan to do. Due to a rider’s added vulnerability,however, signals are even more important. Use them anytime you planto change lanes or turn. Use them even when you think no one else isaround. It is the car you do not see that is going to give you the mosttrouble. Your signal lights also make you easier to spot. That is why itis a good idea to use your turn signals even when what you plan to dois obvious.When you enter a freeway, drivers approaching from behind are morelikely to see your signal blinking and make room for you. 19
  22. 22. Turning on your signal light before each turn Signalingreduces confusion and frustration for trafficaround you. Once you turn, make sure yoursignal is off, or a driver may pull directly intoyour path thinking you plan to turn again.Use your signals at every turn so drivers canreact accordingly. Do not make them guesswhat you intend to do.Brake LightA motorcycle’s brake light is usually not asnoticeable as the brake lights on a car, particularly when the taillight ison. (It goes on with the headlight.) If the situation permits, help othersnotice you by flashing your brake light before you slow down. It isespecially important to flash your brake light before you:• Slow more quickly than others might expect (turning off a high- speed highway).• Slow where others may not expect it (in the middle of a block or at an alley).If you are being followed closely, it is a good idea to flash your brakelight before you slow. The tailgater may be watching you and not seesomething ahead that will make you slow down. This will hopefullydiscourage them from tailgating and warn them of hazards ahead theymay not see.Using Your MirrorsWhile it is most important to scan what is happening ahead, youcannot afford to ignore situations behind. Traffic conditions changequickly. Knowing what is going on behind is essential for you to makea safe decision about how to handle trouble ahead.Frequent mirror checks should be part of your normal scanningroutine. Make a point of using your mirrors:• When stopped at an intersection. Watch cars coming up from behind. If the driver is not paying attention, he/she could be on top of you before he/she sees you.• Before changing lanes. Make sure no one is about to pass you.• Before slowing down. The driver behind may not expect you to slow, or may be unsure about where you will slow. For example, you signal a turn and the driver thinks you plan to turn at a distant intersection, rather than at a nearer driveway.Some motorcycles have rounded (convex) mirrors. These provide awider view of the road behind than flat mirrors. They also makevehicles seem farther away than they really are. If you are not used toconvex mirrors, get familiar with them. (While you are stopped, pick 20
  23. 23. out a parked car in your Using Mirrorsmirror. Form a mental imageof how far away it is. Then,turn around and look at it tosee how close you came.)Practice with your mirrorsuntil you become a goodjudge of distance. Even then,allow extra distance beforeyou change lanes.Head ChecksChecking your mirrors is notenough. Motorcycles have“blind spots” like othervehicles. Before changinglanes, turn your head andlook to the side for other vehicles.On a road with several lanes, check the far lane and the one next toyou. A driver in the distant lane may head for the same space youplan to take.Frequent head checks also should be your normal scanning routine.Only by knowing what is happening all around you are you fullyprepared to deal with it.HornBe ready to use your horn to get someone’s attention quickly. It is agood idea to give a quick beep before passing anyone who may moveinto your lane. Following are some situations:• A driver in the lane next to you is driving too closely to the vehicle ahead and may want to pass.• A parked car has someone in the driver’s seat.• Someone is in the street, riding a bicycle or walking.In an emergency, press thehorn button loud and long. Be 6. Test Yourselfready to stop or swerve away Making eye contact with other drivers:from the danger. Keep in mind a. Is a good sign they see you.that a motorcycle’s horn is b. Is not worth the effort it takes.not as loud as a car’s; c. Does not mean the other drivertherefore, use it, but don’t will yield.rely on it. Other strategies d. Guarantees that the other drivermay be appropriate along will yield to you.with the horn. Answer — page 44 21
  24. 24. Riding at NightAt night it is harder for you to see and be seen. Picking your headlightor taillight out of the car lights around you is not easy for otherdrivers. To compensate:• Reduce Your Speed — Ride even slower than you would during the day, particularly on roads you do not know well. This will increase your chances of avoiding a hazard.• Increase Distance — Distances are harder to judge at night than during the day. Your eyes rely upon shadows and light contrasts to determine how far away an object is and how fast it is coming. These contrasts are missing or distorted under artificial lights at night. Open up your following distance and allow more distance to pass and be passed.• Use the Car Ahead — The headlights of the car ahead can give you a better view of the road than even your high beam can. Taillights bouncing up and down can alert you to rough pavement.• Use Your High Beam — Get all the light you can. Use your high beam whenever you are not following or meeting a car.• Be Flexible About Lane Position — Change to whatever portion of the lane is best to help you see, be seen and keep an adequate space cushion.• Be Visible — Wear reflective materials when riding at night.CRASH AVOIDANCENo matter how careful you are, there will be times when you findyourself in a tight spot. Your chances of getting out safely depend onyour ability to react quickly and properly. Crashes often occurbecause a rider is not prepared for crash-avoidance maneuvers.Knowing when and how to stop or swerve are two skills critical inavoiding a crash. It is not always desirable or possible to stop quicklyto avoid an obstacle. Riders also must be able to swerve around anobstacle. Determining the skills necessary for the situation isimportant as well. Studies show most crash-involved riders:• Underbrake the front tire and overbrake the rear.• Did not separate braking from swerving or did not choose swerving when it was appropriate. 7. Test YourselfQuick StopsTo stop quickly, apply both Reflective clothing should:brakes at the same time. a. Be worn at night.Don’t be shy about using the b. Be worn during the day.front brake, but don’t grab it c. Not be worn.either. Squeeze the brake d. Be worn day and night.lever firmly and progressively. Answer — page 44If the front wheel locks,release the front brake 22
  25. 25. immediately then reapply it firmly. At Stopping Distancethe same time, press down on the rearbrake. If you accidentally lock the rearbrake on a good traction surface, keepit locked until you have completelystopped. Even with a locked rear wheel,you can control the motorcycle on astraight away if it is upright and goingin a straight line.Always use both brakes at the same time to stop. The front brake canprovide 70 percent or more of the potential stopping power. If youmust stop quickly while turning or riding a curve, the best techniqueis to straighten the bike upright first and then brake. However, it maynot always be possible to straighten the motorcycle and then stop. Ifyou must brake while leaning, apply light brakes and reduce thethrottle. As you slow, you can reduce your lean angle and apply morebrake pressure until the motorcycle is straight and maximum brakepressure is possible. You should straighten the handlebars in the lastfew feet of stopping. The motorcycle should then be straight up and inbalance.Swerving or Turning Quickly Swerve, Then BrakeSometimes you may not have enoughroom to stop, even if you use bothbrakes properly. An object mightappear suddenly in your path or thecar ahead might squeal to a stop. Theonly way to avoid a crash may be toturn quickly or swerve around it.A swerve is any sudden change indirection. It can be two quick turns or arapid shift to the side. Apply a smallamount of hand pressure to thehandlegrip located on the side of yourintended direction of escape.This will cause the 8. Test Yourselfmotorcycle to lean quickly.The sharper the turn(s), the The best way to stop quickly is to:more the motorcycle must a. Use the front brake only. b. Use the rear brake first.lean. Keep your body upright c. Throttle down and use the frontand allow the motorcycle to brake.lean in the direction of the d. Use both brakes simultaneously.turn while keeping your kneesagainst the tank and your feet Answer — page 44solidly on the pegs. Let the 23
  26. 26. motorcycle move underneath you. Brake, Then SwerveMake your escape route the target ofyour vision. Press on the oppositehandlegrip once you clear the obstacleto return to your original direction oftravel. To swerve to the left, press theleft handlegrip, then press the right torecover. To swerve to the right, pressright, then left. If braking is required,separate it from swerving. Brakebefore or after, never while swerving.CorneringA primary cause of single-vehicle crashes is motorcyclists runningwide in a curve or turn and colliding with the roadway or a fixedobject. Every curve is different. Be alert to whether a curve remainsconstant, gradually widens, gets tighter or involves multiple turns.Ride within your skill level and posted speed limits. Your best pathmay not always follow the curve of the road.Change lane position depending on traffic, road conditions and curveof the road. If no traffic is present, start at the outside of a curve toincrease your line of sight and the effective radius of the turn. As youturn, move toward the inside of the curve, and as you pass the center,move to the outside to exit.Another alternative is to move to the center of your lane beforeentering a curve and stay there until you exit. This permits you tospot approaching traffic as soon as possible. You can also adjust fortraffic crowding the center line or debris blocking part of your lane. Constant Curves Multiple Curves 24
  27. 27. Decreasing Curves (Tighter Turns) Widening CurvesDANGEROUS SURFACESYour chance of falling or being involved in a crash increases wheneveryou ride across uneven surfaces or obstacles, slippery surfaces,railroad tracks, and grooves and gratings.Uneven Surfaces and ObstaclesWatch for uneven surfaces such asbumps, broken pavement, potholes or Obstaclessmall pieces of highway trash.Try to avoid obstacles by slowing orgoing around them. If you must go overthe obstacle, first determine if it ispossible. Approach it at as close to a90-degree angle as possible. Look whereyou want to go to control your path oftravel. If you have to ride over the obstacle, you should:• Slow down as much as possible before contact.• Make sure the motorcycle is straight.• Rise slightly off the seat with your weight on the footpegs to absorb the shock with your knees and elbows and avoid being thrown off the motorcycle.• Just before contact, roll on the throttle slightly to lighten the front end.If you ride over an object on the street, pull off the road and checkyour tires and rims for damage before riding any farther.Slippery SurfacesMotorcycles handle better when ridden on surfaces that permit goodtraction. Surfaces that provide poor traction include:• Wet pavement, particularly just after it starts to rain and before surface oil washes to the side of the road.• Gravel roads, or where sand and gravel collect. 25
  28. 28. • Mud, snow and ice.• Lane markings, steel plates and manhole covers, especially when wet.To ride safely on slippery surfaces:• Reduce your speed — Slow down before you get to a slippery surface to lessen your chances of skidding. Your motorcycle needs more distance to stop. It is particularly important to reduce speed before entering wet curves.• Avoid sudden moves — Any sudden change in speed or direction can cause a skid. Be as smooth as possible when you speed up, shift gears, turn or brake.• Use both brakes — The front brake is still effective, even on a slippery surface. Squeeze the brake lever gradually to avoid locking the front wheel. Remember, use gentle pressure on the rear brake.• Avoid the center of a lane — When it starts to rain, ride in the tire tracks left by cars. Often, the left tire track will be the best position, depending on traffic and other road conditions as well.• Watch for oil spots — Be careful when you put your foot down to stop or park. You may slip and fall.• Watch for dirt and gravel — Dirt and gravel collect along the sides of the road, especially on curves and ramps leading to and from highways. Be aware of what is on the edge of the road, particularly when making sharp turns and getting on or off freeways at high speeds.• Watch for ice patches — Ice develops more quickly on some sections of a road than on others. Patches of ice tend to form in low or shaded areas and on bridges and overpasses. Wet surfaces or wet leaves are just as slippery. Ride on the least slippery portion of the lane and reduce speed.Cautious riders steer clear of roads covered with ice or snow. If youcannot avoid a slippery surface, keep your motorcycle straight up andproceed as slowly as possible. If you encounter a large surface soslippery you must coast ortravel at a walking pace, Beware of Slippery Roadsconsider letting your feetskim along the surface. Ifthe motorcycle starts tofall, you can catchyourself. Be sure to keepoff the brakes. If possible,squeeze the clutch andcoast. Attempting thismaneuver at anythingother than the slowest ofspeeds could provehazardous. 26
  29. 29. Railroad Tracks, Trolley Tracks and Pavement SeamsIt is usually safer to ride straight within your lane to cross tracks.Turning to take tracks head on (at a 90-degree angle) can be moredangerous and may carry you into another lane of traffic. For trackand road seams that run parallel to your course, move far enoughaway from tracks, ruts or pavement seams to cross at an angle of atleast 45 degrees. Then, make a quick, sharp turn. Edging across couldcatch your tires and throw you off balance. Crosstracks — RIGHT Parallel Tracks — RIGHT Crosstracks — WRONG Parallel Tracks — WRONG Grate Crossings — RIGHTGrooves and GratingsRiding over rain grooves or bridgegratings may cause a motorcycle toweave. The uneasy, wandering feeling isgenerally not hazardous. Relax, maintain asteady speed and ride straight across. Grate Crossings — WRONGCrossing at an angle forces riders tozigzag to stay in the lane. The zigzag is farmore hazardous than the wanderingfeeling.MECHANICAL PROBLEMSYou can find yourself in an emergency the moment something goeswrong with your motorcycle. In dealing with any mechanical problem,take into account the road and traffic conditions you face. Followingare some guidelines that can help you handle mechanical problemssafely.Tire FailureYou will seldom hear a tire go flat. If the motorcycle starts handlingdifferently, it may be a tire failure. This can be dangerous. You should 27
  30. 30. be able to tell from the way the motorcycle reacts. If one of your tiressuddenly loses air, react quickly to keep your balance. Pull off andcheck the tires.If the front tire goes flat, the steering will feel heavy. A front-wheel flatis particularly hazardous because it affects your steering. You have tosteer well to keep your balance.If the rear tire goes flat, the back of the motorcycle may jerk or swayfrom side to side.If either tire goes flat while riding:• Hold handlegrips firmly, ease off the throttle, and keep a straight course.• If braking is required, however, gradually apply the brake of the tire that is not flat, if you are sure which one it is.• When the motorcycle slows, edge to the side of the road, squeeze the clutch and stop.Stuck ThrottleTwist the throttle back and forth several times. If the throttle cable isstuck, this may free it. If the throttle stays stuck, immediately operatethe engine cut-off switch and pull in the clutch at the same time. Thiswill remove power from the rear wheel, although engine noise may notimmediately decline. Once the motorcycle is under control, pull offand stop. After you have stopped, check the throttle cable carefully tofind the source of the trouble. Make certain the throttle works freelybefore you start to ride again.WobbleA wobble occurs when the front wheel and handlebars suddenly startto shake from side to side at any speed. Most wobbles can be tracedto improper loading, unsuitable accessories or incorrect tire pressure.If you are carrying a heavy load, lighten it. If you can’t, shift it. Centerthe weight lower and farther forward on the motorcycle. Make suretire pressure, spring pre-load, air shocks and dampers are at thesettings recommended forthat much weight. Make sure 9. Test Yourselfwindshields and fairings are When it starts raining it is usuallymounted properly. Check for best to:poorly adjusted steering; a. Ride in the center of the lane.worn steering parts; a front b. Pull off to the side until the rainwheel that is bent, misaligned stops.or out of balance; loose wheel c. Ride in the tire tracks left by cars.bearings or spokes; and d. Increase your speed.swingarm bearings. Answer — page 44 28
  31. 31. If none of these are determined to be the cause, have the motorcyclechecked out thoroughly by a qualified professional. Trying toaccelerate out of a wobble will only make the motorcycle moreunstable. You should instead:• Grip the handlebars firmly, but do not fight the wobble.• Close the throttle gradually to slow down. Do not apply the brakes; braking could make the wobble worse.• Move your weight as far forward and down as possible.• Pull off the road as soon as you can to fix the problem.Chain ProblemsA chain that slips or breaks while you are riding could lock the rearwheel and cause your motorcycle to skid. Chain slippage or breakagecan be avoided by proper maintenance.• Slippage — If the chain slips when you try to speed up quickly or ride uphill, pull off the road. Check the chain and sprockets. Tightening the chain may help. If the problem is a worn or stretched chain or worn or bent sprockets, replace the chain, the sprockets or both before riding again.• Breakage — You will notice an instant loss of power to the rear wheel. Close the throttle and brake to a stop.Engine SeizureWhen the engine locks or freezes it is usually low on oil. The engine’smoving parts cannot move smoothly against each other and theengine overheats. The first sign may be a loss of engine power or achange in the engine’s sound. Squeeze the clutch lever to disengagethe engine from the rear wheel. Pull off the road and stop. Check theoil. If needed, oil should be added as soon as possible or the enginewill seize. When this happens, the effect is the same as a locked rearwheel. Let the engine cool before restarting.OBSTACLESAnimalsNaturally, you should do everything you safely can to avoid hitting ananimal. If you are in traffic, however, remain in your lane. Hittingsomething small is lessdangerous to you than 10. Test Yourselfhitting something big, like a If your motorcycle starts to wobblecar. you should: a. Accelerate out of the wobble.Motorcycles seem to attract b. Use the brakes gradually.dogs. If you are chased, c. Grip the handlebars firmly anddownshift and approach the close the throttle gradually.animal slowly. As you d. Downshift.approach it, accelerate away Answer — page 44and leave the animal behind. 29
  32. 32. Do not kick at an animal. Keep control of your motorcycle and look towhere you want to go. For larger animals (deer, cattle, etc.), brake andprepare to stop; they are unpredictable.Flying ObjectsOccasionally, riders are struck by insects, cigarettes thrown from carsor pebbles kicked up by the tires of the vehicle ahead. If you arewearing face protection, it might get smeared or cracked, making itdifficult to see. Without face protection, an object could hit you in theeye, face or mouth. Whatever happens, keep your eyes on the roadand your hands on the handlebars. When safe, pull off the road andrepair the damage.Getting off the RoadIf you need to leave the road to check the motorcycle (or need torest):• Check the roadside — Make sure the surface of the roadside is firm enough to ride on. If it is soft grass, loose sand or you are just not sure about it, slow down before you turn onto it.• Signal — Drivers behind might not expect you to slow down. Give a clear signal that you will be slowing down and changing direction. Check your mirror and make a head check before you take any action.• Pull off the road — Get as far off the road as you can. It can be very hard to spot a motorcycle by the side of the road. You do not want someone else pulling off at the same place you are.• Park carefully — Loose and sloped shoulders can make setting the side or center stand difficult.CARRYING PASSENGERS AND CARGOOnly experienced riders should carry passengers or large loads. Theextra weight changes the way the motorcycle handles, balances,speeds up and slows down. Before taking a passenger or a heavy loadon the street, practice away from traffic.EquipmentTo carry passengers safely:• Equip and adjust your 11. Test Yourself motorcycle to carry If you are chased by a dog you should: passengers. a. Kick it away.• Instruct the passenger b. Stop until the animal loses before you start. interest.• Adjust your riding c. Swerve around the animal. technique for the added d. Approach the animal slowly, then weight. speed up. Answer — page 44 30
  33. 33. Equipment should include:• Proper seat — large enough to hold both of you without crowding. You should not sit any farther forward than you usually do.• Footpegs for passenger — firm footing prevents your passenger from falling off and pulling you off too.• Protective equipment — the same as recommended for motorcycle operators.Adjust the suspension to handle the additional weight. You willprobably need to add a few pounds of pressure to the tires if youcarry a passenger. (Check your owner’s manual for appropriatesettings.) While your passenger sits on the seat with you, adjust themirror and headlight according to the change in the motorcycle’s angle.Instructing PassengersEven if your passenger is a motorcycle rider, provide completeinstructions before you start.Tell your passenger to:• Get on the motorcycle only after you have started the engine.• Sit as far forward as possible without crowding you.• Hold on firmly to your waist, hips or belt.• Keep both feet on the footpegs, even when stopped.• Keep legs away from the muffler(s), chains or moving parts.• Stay directly behind you, leaning as you lean.• Avoid unnecessary talk or motion.Also, tell your passenger to tighten his/her hold when you:• Approach surface problems.• Are about to start from a stop.• Warn that you will make a sudden move.Riding with PassengersYour motorcycle will respond more slowly with a passenger on board.The heavier your passenger, the longer it will take to slow down andspeed up, especially on a light motorcycle.• Ride slower, especially when taking curves, corners or bumps.• Start slowing earlier as you approach a stop.• Open up a larger cushion of space ahead and to the sides.• Wait for larger gaps to cross, enter or merge in traffic.Carrying LoadsMost motorcycles are not designed to carry much cargo. Small loadscan be carried safely if positioned and fastened properly.• Keep the load low — Fasten loads securely or put them in saddlebags. Piling loads against a sissybar or frame on the back of the seat raises the motorcycle’s center of gravity and disturbs its balance. 31
  34. 34. • Keep the load forward — Place the load over, or in front of, the rear axle. Tankbags keep loads forward, but use caution when loading hard or sharp objects. Make sure the tankbag does not interfere with handlebars or controls. Mounting loads behind the rear axle can affect how the motorcycle turns and brakes. It can also cause a wobble.• Distribute the load evenly — Load saddlebags with about the same weight. An uneven load can cause the motorcycle to drift to one side.• Secure the load — Fasten the load securely with bungee cords or nets. Elastic cords with more than one attachment point per side are more secure. A tight load will not catch in the wheel or chain, causing it to lock up and skid. Rope tends to stretch and knots come loose, permitting the load to shift or fall.• Check the load — Stop and check the load every so often to make sure it has not worked loose.PROTECT YOURSELF AND OTHERSGroup RidingIf you ride with others, do it in a way that promotes safety and doesnot interfere with the flow of traffic. Small groups make it easier andsafer for car drivers who need to get around them. A small number isnot separated as easily by traffic or red lights. Riders will not alwaysbe hurrying to catch up. If your group is larger than four or five riders,divide it into two or more smaller groups.• Plan ahead — The leader should look ahead for changes and signal early. Start lane changes early to permit others to follow.• Put beginners up front — Place inexperienced riders just behind the leader where 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 to stay with the tailender.• Know the route — Make sure everyone knows the route so if someone is separated they will not have to hurry to keep from getting lost or taking a wrong turn. Plan frequent stops on long rides.Maintain close ranks but at the same time keep a safe distance toallow each rider in the group time and space to react to hazards. Aclose group takes up less space on the highway, is easier to see and isless likely to be separated. However, it must be done properly.• Don’t pair up — Never operate directly alongside another rider. There is no place to go if you have to avoid a car or something on the road. To talk, wait until you are both stopped. 32
  35. 35. • Staggered formation — This is the best Staggered Formation way to keep ranks close yet maintain an adequate space cushion. The leader rides in the left side of the lane, while the second rider stays one second behind in the right side of the lane. A third rider maintains in the left position, two seconds behind the first rider. The fourth rider would keep a two-second distance behind the second rider. This formation keeps the group close and permits each rider a safe distance from others ahead, behind and to the sides.• Passing in formation — Riders in a staggered formation should pass one at a time. First, the lead rider should pull out and pass when it is safe. After passing, the leader should return to the left position and continue riding at passing speed to open room for the next rider. After the first rider passes safely, the second rider should move up to the left position and watch for a safe chance to pass. After passing, this rider should return to the right position and open up room for the next rider. Group Passing Group Passing Stage 1 Stage 2Some people suggest that theleader should move to the rightside after passing a vehicle. Thisis not a good idea. It encouragesthe second rider to pass and cutback in before there is a largeenough space cushion in front ofthe passed vehicle. It is simplerand safer to wait until there isenough room ahead of the passed vehicle to allow each rider to moveinto the same position held before the pass. It is best to move into asingle-file formation when riding curves, turning, entering orleaving a highway.Alcohol and OtherDrugs 12. Test YourselfYour ability to perform andrespond to changing road and Passengers should:traffic conditions is a. Lean as you lean.influenced by how fit and b. Hold on to the motorcycle seat.alert you are. Alcohol and c. Sit as far back as possible.other drugs, more than any d. Never hold on to you.other factor, decrease yourability to think clearly and Answer — page 44ride safely. As little as one 33
  36. 36. drink can have a significant effect on your performance. Studies showthat nearly half of all riders killed in motorcycle crashes had beendrinking. Only one-third of those riders had a blood-alcoholconcentration (BAC) above the illegal limit (.08). The rest had only afew drinks in their systems, enough to impair riding skills.Injuries occur in 90 percent of motorcycle crashes and 33 percent ofautomobile crashes that involve drinking or drugs. Annually, morethan 2,000 motorcyclists are killed and about 50,000 seriously injuredin alcohol-related crashes. Motorcycle riding and substance abuse donot mix. Alcohol and drugs make you less able to think clearly andperform physical tasks skillfully. Judgment and the decision-makingprocesses needed for vehicle operation are affected long before theillegal BAC limit is reached. Many over-the-counter prescription drugsand illegal drugs have side effects that increase the risk of a crashwhile riding. And the combined effects of alcohol and other drugs aremore dangerous than either is alone.Alcohol enters the bloodstream quickly. Unlike most foods andbeverages, it does not need to be digested. Within minutes after beingconsumed, it reaches the brain and begins to affect the drinker.Alcohol slows down and impairs bodily functions — both mental andphysical.BAC — Blood-alcohol concentration is the amount of alcohol inrelation to blood in the body. Generally, alcohol can be eliminated inthe body at the rate of about one drink per hour. But a variety of otherfactors also may influence the level of alcohol retained. The morealcohol in your blood, the greater the degree of impairment.Three factors play a major part in determining BAC:• Amount of alcohol consumed.• How fast you drink.• Body weight.Other factors also contribute to the way alcohol affects your system.Your gender, physicalcondition and food intake are 13. Test Yourselfjust a few that may causeyour BAC level to be even When riding in a group, inexperiencedhigher. Alcohol may still riders should position themselves: a. Just behind the leader.accumulate in your body b. In front of the group.even if you are drinking at a c. At the tail end of the group.rate of one drink per hour. d. Beside the leader.Abilities and judgment canbe affected by that one Answer — page 44drink. 34
  37. 37. A 12-ounce can of beer, a mixed drink with a 1.5-ounce shot of hardliquor and a 5-ounce glass of wine all contain the same amount ofalcohol.The faster you drink, the more alcohol accumulates in your body. Ifyou drink two drinks in one hour, at the end of that hour, at least onedrink remains in your bloodstream. Without taking into account any ofthe other factors, the formula below illustrates the LEAST amount ofdrinks remaining in the bloodstream:A person drinking:• 8 drinks in 4 hours would have at least 4 drinks remaining in his/her system.• 7 drinks in 3 hours would have at least 4 drinks remaining in his/her system.There are times when a larger person may not accumulate a highconcentration of alcohol for each drink consumed because they havemore blood and other bodily fluids. Because of individual differencesit is better not to risk that your abilities have not been affected.Whether or not you are legally intoxicated is not the real issue.Impairment of judgment begins well below the illegal BAC limit. Total Drinks Number of Drinks Left Consumed LESS Hours Since EQUALS in the Body Last Drink - = Alcohol Concentration 12-oz. Beer 5-oz. Wine 1.5-oz. Shot Hard LiquorDUI — In Illinois, a person with a BAC of .08 is consideredintoxicated. It is illegal to drive if your BAC is .08 or greater. However,you can be convicted of DUI if your BAC is less than .08 percent andyour driving ability is impaired. 35
  38. 38. Drunk drivers face stiff, mandatory penalties. If you are convicted ofdriving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, you may receive any ofthe following:• Driver’s license suspension — Mandatory suspension/revocation for conviction, arrest or refusal to submit to a breath test.• BAIID — Breath-alcohol device required to start your vehicle.• Fines — Severe fines, usually levied with a driver’s license suspension/revocation.• Community service — Performing tasks such as picking up litter along the highway, washing cars in the motor-vehicle pool or working at an emergency ward.In addition, you face attorney’s fees, lost work time spent in court orin alcohol-education programs, public transportation costs (whileyour driver’s license is suspended/revoked) and the psychologicalcosts of being tagged a drunk driver.Don’t Drink or Don’t Ride — If you have not controlled your drinking,you must control your riding. Leave the motorcycle so you will not betempted to ride. Arrange another way to get home. Once you start,your resistance becomes weaker. Setting a limit or pacing yourself arepoor alternatives. Your ability to exercise good judgment is one of thefirst things affected by alcohol. Even if you try to drink in moderation,you may not realize to what extent your skills have suffered fromalcohol’s effects.People who have had too much to drink are unable to make aresponsible decision. It is up to others to step in and keep them fromtaking too great a risk. There are several ways to keep friends fromhurting themselves:• Arrange a safe ride — Provide alternative ways for them to get home.• Slow the pace of drinking — Involve them in other activities.• Keep them there — Use any excuse to keep them from getting on their motorcycle. Serve them food and coffee to pass the time. Explain your concerns for their risks of getting arrested or hurt or hurting someone else.• Get friends involved — Use 14. Test Yourself peer pressure from a group If you wait an hour for each drink of friends to intervene. before riding: a. You cannot be arrested forFatigue drinking and driving.Riding a motorcycle is more b. Your riding skills will not be affected.tiring than driving a car. On a c. Effects from drinking may still remain.long trip, you will tire sooner d. You will be okay as long as youthan you would in a car. Avoid ride slowly. Answer — page 44 36
  39. 39. riding when tired. Fatigue can affect your control of the motorcycle.• Protect yourself from the elements — Wind, cold and rain make you tire quickly. Dress warmly. A windshield is worth its cost if you plan to ride long distances.• Limit your distance — Experienced riders seldom try to ride more than six hours a day.• Take frequent rest breaks — Stop and get off the motorcycle at least every two hours.• Don’t drink or use drugs — Artificial stimulants often result in extreme fatigue or depression when they start to wear off. Riders are unable to concentrate on the task at hand.EARNING YOUR MOTORCYCLE LICENSESafe riding requires knowledgeand skill. To earn your license,you must pass both theknowledge test and skills testcovering information in thismanual. To pass you must studythis manual thoroughly andpractice the skills and techniquesdiscussed.Rider Skill TestThe Illinois Secretary of State’s office administers the Rider Skill Test.Applicants for a Class L or Class M license are required to pass thisexamination.Exception: Persons age 18 and older who hold a valid Illinois driver’slicense and have successfully completed a motorcycle training courseapproved by IDOT are not required to pass this test at a DriverServices facility. Those persons already will have passed a skills testat the end of the training course and must show an IDOT MotorcycleRider Education Course completion card dated after Jan. 1, 1993, inaddition to proper identification. IDOT Motorcycle Rider EducationCourse completion cards are valid for one year after the issue date.For information about a Motorcycle Rider Education Course in yourarea, please call one of the toll-free numbers on page 45 of thismanual.The Rider Skill Test is designed to measure vehicle handling skills inan off-street paved area approximately 30 feet by 75 feet. Lines arepainted within this area to delineate the following six exercises. Anequipment check is conducted prior to the examination. 37
  40. 40. Two-Wheel Rider Skill TestEngine Stalling• Points are assessed if you stall your engine at any time during any exercise.• Stalling the engine four times during this test is an automatic failure.Exercise 1 — Cone weave, normal stop• When signaled, ride to the right of the first cone, to the left of the second, and so on. Weave past all five cones without touching or skipping a cone.• Turn left and ride toward this side of the course. Make a smooth, non-skidding stop with your front tire inside the box.• When stopped, your front tire must not touch the painted lines. Remain stopped.Exercise 2 — Turn from a stop, U-turn• When signaled, make a right turn between the boundary lines. Do not touch either line.• Diagonally, cross to the opposite side of the range and make a left U-turn inside the painted box at the far end of the range.• Do not touch the solid line (motorcycles 600cc or more) or the dashed line (motorcycles less than 600cc) or put a foot down.• Stop with your front tire inside the box and wait for further instructions.Exercise 3 — Quick stop• Position your motorcycle on the Start T.• When signaled, accelerate straight up this path. Stabilize your speed between 12 and 20 mph by the time you reach the first line.• Maintain a steady speed.• When your front tire crosses the second line, stop as fast as you safely can. You will not lose points if you skid.• Once stopped, do not allow your motorcycle to roll in either direction.Exercise 4 — Obstacle swerve• Start at the same Start T.• When signaled, accelerate straight up this path. Stabilize your speed between 12 and 18 mph by the time you reach the first line.• Maintain a steady speed.• When your front tire passes the second line, swerve to the right/left.• Avoid the obstacle line and stay inside the sideline. Do not touch either line.• Stop smoothly and wait for further instructions. 38
  41. 41. 1 2Cone Weave, Normal Stop Turn From a Stop, U-turn 3 4 Quick Stop Obstacle Swerve 39
  42. 42. Three-Wheel/Four-Wheel Rider Skill TestEngine Stalling• Points are assessed if you stall your engine at any time during any exercise.• Stalling the engine four times during this test is an automatic failure.Exercise 1 — Left turn, normal stop• Accelerate straight ahead and make a sharp left turn between the outside boundary lines and the cone marker. Do not touch lines or the cone.• Ride toward the end of the course. Make a smooth, non-skidding stop with your front tire inside the box (left front tire on vehicles with two front tires).• When stopped, your front tire must not touch the painted lines. Remain stopped.Exercise 2 — Cone weave, turn from a stop• When signaled, ride to the left of the first cone, to the right of the second, and to the left of the third. Weave past all three without touching or skipping any of the cones.• Turn right at the end of the course and stop at the Start T facing the other side of the course.• When signaled, make a right turn between the boundary lines and the cone. Do not touch the outside boundary lines or the cone.• Make a smooth, non-skidding stop with your front tire inside the box and wait for further instructions.Exercise 3 — Quick stop• Position your motorcycle on the Start T.• When signaled, accelerate straight up this path. Stabilize your speed between 12 and 20 mph by the time you reach the first line.• Maintain a steady speed.• When your front tire/overhang crosses the second line, stop as fast as you safely can. You will not lose points if you skid.• Once stopped, do not allow your vehicle to roll in either direction.Exercise 4 — Obstacle swerve• Start at the same Start T.• When signaled, accelerate straight up this path. Stabilize your speed between 12 and 18 mph by the time you reach the first line.• Maintain a steady speed.• When your front tire/overhang passes the second line, swerve to the right/left.• Avoid the obstacle line and stay to the inside of the sideline. Do not touch either line.• Stop smoothly and wait for further instructions. 40
  43. 43. 1 2Left Turn, Normal Stop Cone Weave, Turn From a Stop 3 4 Quick Stop Obstacle Swerve 41
  44. 44. To receive a motorcycle license with full privileges, Illinois law requiresthe maneuvers be performed as designed.If you test on a three-wheeled vehicle, a J-11 restriction (three-wheeledmotorcycle only) will be added until completion of a two-wheeled test.If you test on a four-wheel vehicle, a J-17 restriction (four-wheeledmotorcycle only) will be added.You also may be tested on your ability to:• Know your motorcycle and your riding limits.• Accelerate, brake and turn safely.• See, be seen and communicate with others.• Adjust speed and position to the traffic situation.• Stop, turn and swerve quickly.• Make critical decisions and carry them out.Examiners may score on factors related to safety such as:• Selecting safe speeds to perform maneuvers.• Choosing the correct path and staying within boundaries.• Completing normal and quick stops.• Completing normal and quick turns or swerves.The test will be terminated if the driver:• Falls or drops the motorcycle at any time.• Commits an unsafe act (i.e., loses control, raises the front wheel off the ground, uses excessively high speed, etc.).• Obtains enough points (11 or more) to constitute a failure.• Testing time exceeds a reasonable time limit.REQUIRED EQUIPMENTNo motorcycle or motor-driven cycle may be legally operated on astreet or highway without the following required equipment:Brakes — Motorcycles must have brakes on both wheels, with aseparate means of application for each wheel or two separate meansof application on the rear wheel. Motor-driven cycles must have eithera hand-operated or foot-operated brake on at least one wheel,preferably the rear wheel.Eye protection — Both driver and passenger must be protected byglasses, goggles or a transparent windshield.Footrests — No passengers may be carried except in a sidecar orenclosed cab, unless the vehicle is equipped for passengers withfootrests adjusted to fit the passenger. 42
  45. 45. Handlebars — Handlebars should not be higher than the height of theshoulders of the operator when seated in the normal driving positionastride that portion of the seat or saddle occupied by the operator.Headlights — At least one white light, visible for 500 feet, must belighted whenever the motorcycle is being operated on streets orhighways. A device to modulate the high beam of the head lamp maybe used except when lighted lamps are required for all vehicles.Horn — Must be heard for 200 feet.License plate light — One white license plate light must be lightedwhenever the headlight is on and must make the license plate visibleat least 50 feet away.Muffler — Must be in constant operation and properly maintained toprevent any excessive or unusual noise. Modification of an exhaustsystem for the purpose of increasing the noise level is prohibited by law.Rearview mirror — Must reflect a view of at least 200 feet.Seat — Drivers are prohibited from carrying passengers unless thevehicle has been designed to carry two people. Everyone riding amotorcycle must sit astride the seat, face forward, with one leg oneach side of the motorcycle.Stoplight — One red light, actuated by the brake and visible for 500feet.Taillight — One red light, visible for 500 feet.Note: Although a helmet is not required equipment under Illinoislaw, a rider who wears a properly fitted helmet greatly reduces thechance of receiving a fatal head injury in an accident, regardless ofthe vehicle’s traveling speed. 43
  46. 46. KNOWLEDGE TEST — SAMPLE QUESTIONS1. It is MOST important to flash your brake light when: a. Someone is following too closely. b. You will be slowing suddenly. c. There is a stop sign ahead. d. Your signals are not working.2. The FRONT brake supplies how much of the potential stopping power? a. About one-quarter. b. About one-half. c. About three-quarters. d. All the stopping power.3. To swerve correctly: a. Shift your weight quickly. b. Turn the handlebars quickly. c. Press the handlegrip in the direction of the turn. d. Press the handlegrip in the opposite direction of the turn.4. In the illustration at right, the car at left is waiting to enter the intersection. It is best to: a. Make eye contact with the driver. b. Reduce speed and be ready to react. c. Maintain speed and position. d. Maintain speed and move right.Answers to above Knowledge Test:1-b 2-c 3-c 4-bAnswers to Test Yourself (previous pages):1-c 2-d 3-d 4-a 5-b 6-c 7-d8-d 9-c 10-c 11-d 12-a 13-a 14-c 44

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