A Guide for Pennsylvania Teens and Their Parents
It’s summertime and that means lots of teens are out of school, and clamoring to jump on their bikes to blow off some steam. Which is great!
With preparation, practice and parental supervision, motorcycle riding can be a great summertime activity for your teen, and a way for you and your kid(s) to bond. Obviously an important step in making that happen is for your teen to get his or her Class M license.
As I have mentioned in writing before on my Pennsylvania motorcycle accident lawyer blog, riding without a license – besides being illegal – is just an awful idea.
With these factors in mind, I thought a brief primer on how to get a motorcycle permit in PA would be a good resource for teens who are interested in joining the biking lifestyle, and their parents who will be introducing them to it.
Help your teen understand how to get a PA motorcycle permit
There are a couple of steps you should take before allowing your teen to ride.
The first consideration is whether or not they are mature enough for the responsibility. Teens are not known for spectacular judgement when it comes to their own safety, and driving a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car right out of the gate, requiring more agility, heightened coordination and increased alertness.
If, in your judgement as a parent, he or she passes this test your next step will be to gain a good, basic understanding of the bike itself, Pennsylvania motorcycle laws, and how to get a motorcycle permit.
The Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT) has a very useful resource that I’ve recommended before that covers some of these questions: the Motorcycle Operator Manual.
If your child (or you) is interested in learning the rules of the road, the basics of bike maintenance, and how to get a PA motorcycle permit and eventually a license, this is not a bad place to start.
The Bike, Helmet, and Other Gear
As far as gear goes, a relatively light bike is probably a good idea for younger or female riders, as they are less likely to roll over (according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration), and somewhat less likely to cause a really serious injury when they do.
Choosing a motorcycle is a big topic that deserves its own treatment, so I won’t spend more time on it here.
Make sure your teen rider has a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) 218-approved motorcycle helmet. Look for the letters “DOT,” on the back of the outside to make sure the helmet is certified to those safety standards.
I would recommend a full face helmet for the maximum level of crash protection. A good salesperson will be able to help your teen select a helmet that fits correctly.
As far as clothing goes, arms and legs should be completely covered, ideally with leather or heavy denim. I’d also recommend over-the-ankle boots and full-finger gloves, jackets and pants with padding which provide additional protection.
Wearing brightly colored clothing with reflective material makes it easier for other drivers to see motorcyclists and may reduce the likelihood of them being hit by other vehicles.
If you have questions about gear, I’m happy to answer your questions at 888-292-5352 at no charge. Just recommend me to your riding friends.
How to get motorcycle permit in PA for teens
To get a Class M license in Pennsylvania, teens must follow a multistep process similar to the one required for future car drivers, known as the Graduated Drivers License process.
Getting your Junior Learner’s Permit is the first phase, which you can begin working on when you are as young as 16, before graduating to your Provisional License, and then your Motorcycle License.
- Step 1: Paperwork – As with most awesome things that are also legal, the first step toward the awesomeness involves paperwork. First, complete your Non-Commercial Learner’s Permit Application (Form DL-180) that proves you are physically able to drive. Your doctor must examine you and complete this form less than 6 months before you turn 16. Then have your parents fill out a Parent or Guardian Consent Form (Form DL-180TD).
Collect these forms, along with your Social Security Card and birth certificate or passport to prove your identity, and $34.50 to pay the fee and take them to any Pennsylvania Drivers License Center, where you’ll also pass a vision test and take a written test of your knowledge.
- Step 2: Take the Basic Rider Course – Since 2012, 16 and 17 year olds have been required to complete a Basic Rider Course offered for free by the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Safety Program (PAMSP). This is an introduction to the fundamentals of safe riding and responsible motorcycle operation. It consists of 5 hours of classroom instruction, followed by 10 hours of on-cycle training. Sign up at the PAMSP website (www.pamsp.com) to schedule your class.
- Step 3: Pass a Written Knowledge Test – The knowledge test is based on information from the Pennsylvania Motorcycle Operator Manual to which I provided a link up above, so download and study it. The questions are generally common sense road rules, combined with a few motorcycle-specific ones. Most people will not have much trouble with it, so I won’t spend any more time on it here, other to encourage you again to check out the manual.
Once you complete these steps you’ll be issued a Class M Learner’s Permit that allows you to ride during the daytime. After holding your permit for 6 months, you’ll be eligible to take the PA motorcycle permit practice test, which I cover in depth at the link.
Now, if you’ve reading my motorcycle personal injury lawyer blog for long, you’ll know that I often cover insurance issues, and there are a host of issues related to insuring your motorcycle riding teen.
If you’re unsure about insurance issues, consultations are free and I’m happy to answer your questions at 888-292-5352.
Riding a motorcycle was one of the most exciting hobbies I discovered when I was a teen myself, and it led to a lifelong love affair with bikes that I am still enthralled with. It’s a great way for a teenager to establish an identity and learn responsibility. Helping them get their permit is a a great way for you and your kid to bond. And while it won’t keep them “off the streets,” it may just help keep them out of trouble.
Have more questions or concerns about how to get a motorcycle permit? Contact Pennsylvania motorcycle accident attorney Lee Gaber at 888-292-5352, for more great info.