The season for motorcycles is upon us. The month of May is Motorcycle Awareness Month.
Some say motorcycles are dangerous. I say that’s ka-ka! It’s the rider who can be dangerous. Statistics show that the percentage of intoxicated motorcycle riders in fatal crashes is greater than the percentage of intoxicated drivers on our roads. Shall we blame the motorcycle for that? Riders are not supposed to ride between lanes of traffic, but they do. Is that the motorcycles fault? I will never understand why we fail to put the blame where it belongs.
The licensing procedure for motorcycles is also a problem. From personal experience I can tell you that DMV examiners who conduct road tests for cyclists, quite often, do not possess motorcycle licenses. Yet, somehow, the DMV feels they are qualified to judge applicants for an MC license.
I recall one experience where the applicant made very wide circles. The examiner asked me why some applicants made wide circles and others made tight circles. I explained to him that it takes more skill to make a tight circle. On another occasion, the cyclists wasn’t able to get the bike started. He kept kicking and kicking but it wouldn’t start. The examiner asked me what the problem was.. He thought the bike was defective. I explained that the applicant failed to turn on the gas valve.
The biggest problem with the testing procedure is not the lack of qualifications of the examiner but the procedure itself. An applicant can take a test on a small Honda with an engine of 100cc. If he passes the test he receives a license that qualifies him/her to ride a 1000cc Harley. Absurd. It’s like testing someone in a car, which would then qualify them to drive a tractor-trailer.
To add insult to injury, mopeds (limited use motorcycles) are classified by their range of speeds. There are three classifications for the inconsequential moped but only one for any size motorcycle. Does that make any sense?
Keep in mind that 25 percent of motorcycle riders involved in fatal crashes are riding their vehicles without valid motorcycle licenses at the time of the collisions.
You should also know that signal lights on a motorcycle do not turn off automatically as they do in a car. The rider has to turn it off. Quite often they don’t remember to do so. Beware of cyclists who are signaling. It might not mean what you think it means.
There’s lots of blame to go around when it comes to colliding with motorcycles, and the DMV needs to share some of it.