Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Sir, May I see your license?

To this day it simply amazes me how many riders do not have a valid motorcycle license in the state of Pennsylvania. Motorcyclists often talk about the dangers of riding on the road and topping their list of concerns is "the other guy" on the road.

We get it. I understand and agree that you have to be a defensive rider. But before you practice defense, you have to learn how to play the game. In order to play the game, you must be a licensed rider. In the state of Pennsylvania that means that you must have a Class "M" certification.

I've heard all of the excuses before. Everything from "I'm too busy" to "I've been riding for 30 years! Why do I need one now?" Why? Because its the law. If not only for that reason, you'll be doing yourself, your family and everyone else on the road a favor by getting your skills tested.

I mean, if you have been riding for years, then you don't have anything to worry about, right? Or do you? Is that why you've been putting it off? I also understand the time issue. Time is a luxury that few people have these days.

That's why now would be a perfect time of the year to go and get that motorcycle license that you've been putting off. If you get the ball rolling now, you can easily be licensed by spring.

The process is quite simple, actually. It will only take about 20 minutes of time to get the ball rolling.

A Motorcycle Learner’s Permit Application (Form DL-5) will first need to be completed. You'll need to grab ten bucks and head to a PennDOT Driver License Center for processing. You will be given a vision screening and a motorcycle knowledge test on the spot.

The test is really easy. There is a book (more like a pamphlet) that contains all of the answers to the test and it can be found at the center or at most motorcycle dealerships. It’s called the “Motorcycle Operator Manual.” It’s a whopping 40 pages with illustrations and a sample test.

We're not talking the SAT's here. This is just a simple 20 question multiple choice test to get your permit. I will give you some advice though. Some questions have two answers that could be right. You’ll have to go through and pick the better answer. You don’t even need a perfect score to pass, so if you miss one or two, you’ll still pass.

Once you pass the knowledge test, the application will be processed and a motorcycle (Class M) learner’s permit issued. The learner’s permit allows you to practice safe operating skills and is valid for one year.

When you’re ready to take your skills test, you can either schedule an appointment at one of PennDOT’s Driver License Centers or schedule training through the motorcycle safety program. This can be done on-line by going to

I highly recommend the motorcycle safety program. They give you motorcycles to ride, it can be done on weekends, and you get your Class M endorsement right there on the spot upon completion of the program. It’s very simple.

Over the next few months, the weather isn’t going to be the best for riding anyway. So why don’t you do yourself, your family and fellow motorcyclists a favor and get started on getting your license!

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