A motorcycle handbook is an important safety manual that you should read before operating a motorcycle. The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) in each state publishes a manual that you can read to learn about the applicable laws in your state as well as all of the safety procedures you need to follow. A DMV motorcycle handbook is a comprehensive guide that is well worth the time to read.

Not only is a motorcycle manual a helpful resource for your own knowledge, but it is also your best resource when studying for your knowledge test and riding exam at the DMV. By reading through the handbook, you will gain confidence in your knowledge of laws and the safety practices you will need to know for your licensing tests. In the sections below, learn more about the benefits of reading a handbook and discover where you can get a copy of your state’s manual.

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What topics are covered in the DMV motorcycle handbook?

Motorcycle handbooks contain a wide range of topics, all of which you will want to familiarize yourself with before getting on a bike. While it is helpful to go through the manual before getting your first motorcycle license, you can also benefit from reviewing the materials in the handbook if you have been riding for years. The topics covered in the motorcycle DMV book can vary by state, but will usually include information on the following:

  • The requirements you must meet in order to get a motorcycle license or endorsement
  • How to renew or replace your motorcycle license to keep it valid
  • Basic motorcycle controls such as stopping, starting, steering and parking
  • How to operate a bike safely under different conditions
  • Your state’s motorcycle helmet laws and rules for other safety gear
  • How alcohol and drugs impair your riding ability
  • How to avoid collisions with other vehicles and stay visible

Can a DMV motorcycle manual help applicants prepare for a motorcycle exam?

Motorcycle manuals are essential to your success when preparing for license tests. Even if you have experience driving other types of vehicles, such as passenger cars, this knowledge is rarely sufficient when taking tests for your motorcycle. Not only are motorcycle laws different than those for cars and other vehicles, the skills required to drive a motorcycle differ as well. There are some traffic laws and safety techniques that apply no matter which type of vehicle you drive, such as checking your blind spots and obeying speed limits. However, you need to follow additional rules on a motorbike.

Reading a motorcycle test book will also help you prepare for your exams if you have just moved to a new state and need to get driving credentials there. Motorcycle safety practices are usually the same in all states, but the laws and rules for riding can vary from one place to another. For example, some states require you to wear a helmet no matter what, while others only make helmets mandatory for certain age groups. Even if you are an experienced rider, you will want to read the manual in your new state before taking the knowledge or skills exams required to get your new license. Given that most license tests only allow you to get a few questions wrong for a passing score, you can save yourself time and money by preparing ahead of time by reading through the manual.

What other materials can help applicants prepare for a motorcycle knowledge test or road exam?

Reading through the motorcycle operator manual on your own is a great way to prepare for your exams, but you may also have the option of taking a riding class to learn even more. Many states’ DMVs have partnered with organizations that provide rider safety courses, with the most common organization being the Motorcycle Safety Foundation. If your state’s DMV is partnered with such an organization, you can usually enroll in classes such as:

  • Basic rider courses, which are ideal when getting your first riding credentials.
  • Advanced rider courses, which are geared towards experienced riders.
  • Refresher courses, which you can take at any stage to brush up on your motorcycle knowledge.

You can oftentimes receive a motorcycle permit study guide by enrolling in a basic rider course, which will help you get ready for your exams. Taking a safety course provides a good opportunity to work on your skills in a controlled environment. However, completing one of these classes may also allow you to get a waiver for your motorcycle knowledge exam if allowed by your local DMV. Some states even permit you to skip your on-bike skills test if you successfully complete a rider safety program. Check with your local DMV to see if you are allowed to take these rider courses in lieu of your exams.

Who else can benefit from a motorcycle manual?

Motorcycle handbooks are essential for those who wish to drive a motorbike, but other drivers can benefit from reading them as well. Motorists who operate passenger cars or commercial vehicles can become better drivers by learning about the laws relating to motorcyclists in their state. These rules may not directly affect the drivers of passenger cars, but knowing the rights and responsibilities of motorcyclists is beneficial for everyone on the road. The more drivers who know about motorcycle safety, the fewer collisions and deaths there will be between cars and motorcycles.

How to Get a DMV Motorcycle Manual

Motorcycle manuals are published by the DMV in each state. Handbooks are usually available in print or online, and you can get a copy in one of the following methods:

  • Download a copy online.
  • Call the DMV to order a manual.
  • Visit a branch office in person to pick up a handbook.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHSTA) also provides a general motorcycle safety manual, which you can read here. Although the NHSTA guide includes many basic principles that all DMV manuals cover, you will still want to read through the handbook for your state before riding or taking your tests.

Last updated on Friday, September 21 2018.

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