If you ride a motorcycle, you operate a motor vehicle. The law holds you to the same standards as any other driver. Indeed, because you have a motorcycle, you might even find those laws more stringent in places. Those who make driving mistakes will have to pay for them, and the penalties might prove steep. A tarnished record could lead to legal and insurance challenges in the future. So, if you have a bad record, what can you do to improve it? How can you avoid committing offenses on your bike in the first place?
Take a close look at your responsibilities as a driver. The more attention you pay to your own safety, the bigger a favor you do to others on the road.
Why do Motorcyclists Have Driving Records?
Every driver has a record, including motorcyclists, and the reason is simple.
Driving is a public safety risk. When you get behind the wheel (or handlebars, that is), you operate a piece of heavy machinery. If used irresponsibly, your bike could harm or kill others or damage property. The authorities maintain driving records, along with licensing and insurance requirements, to hold drivers accountable.
Think of your record as a picture of your habits as a driver. It’s often a good indicator of how you use your bike now, and how you might in the future. However, that doesn’t mean you can’t control what goes on your record.
Penalties Impacting Your Driving Record
Your motorcycle record is like your school’s permanent record. If you do something wrong, your record will reflect those indiscretions. Some of the penalties impacting your record might include:
- Receiving a speeding ticket or other citation
- Failing to carry insurance on the bike
- Getting a DUI/DWI infraction
- Driving without a valid license
- Having a wreck for which you are at-fault
- Using a vehicle while committing a criminal act
The law expects you, and everyone else on the road, to follow the law. So, if you don’t, you can expect penalties to follow. These might include points on your license, fines, suspensions and more.
Depending on the severity of your actions, some infractions will only remain on your record for a couple of years. Others might remain indefinitely. Still, in both the short- and long-term, the penalties could prove cumbersome and costly.
How Your Record Follows You
You might think your driving record is something no one else will ever see. That’s not true. It might impact your ability to get a job if you do a task that involves significant driving, for example. However, where it will impact most people is in the realm of their insurance.
Motorcycle insurers charge drivers for their policies, in part, based on risks. Your risk is your likelihood of filing a claim. So, if you have a higher risk of filing a claim, your insurer might have to charge you more for your coverage. That’s because you pose more of a cost risk to them.
Your driving record reflects actions you commit while driving. So, they are often reliable measurements of some of the risk you pose to your insurer and others on the road. If you commit an offense, that means you might have a higher likelihood of filing a claim on your policy. As a result, your insurer might have to raise your policy rates because your record has a few red marks.
While some insurers put less weight on records when determining rates, it pays to keep yours clear. The fewer risks you present, the better your chances of paying more affordable rates.
How can you improve your record?
You cannot remove a charge once it appears on the record. You must wait for it to disappear. However, you can take steps to keep yourself safe in the first place. Being a defensive, proactive biker will likely keep you safer on the road.
- Always wear safety gear. This includes helmets, shoes and protective eyewear. Some states require certain bikers to wear safety gear, while others don’t. Nevertheless, regardless of requirements, wear these items in your own best interest.
- Never bike while impaired, or attempt to use a mobile device on your bike.
- Don’t assume that having a fast, flashy bike gives you any permission to speed. The speed limit applies to everyone.
- You might have to use hand signals to notify other drivers of your intentions to turn, slow or make other maneuvers. Learn these requirements and follow them.
- Carry a valid motorcycle insurance policy. Your state will require you to have minimum coverage. But, you have a lot of leeway to choose more acceptable coverage limits.
- Keep your license and registration with you at all times. Ensure you carry all specialty endorsements to ride the bike.
- Consider taking a motorcycle safety course. It can teach you valuable defensive driving techniques to keep yourself safe.
If you ever have questions about your driving record, contact your local DMV. Your insurer can also provide information on how your record affects your rates. In the end, simply by being a conscientious driver can you make your record look a lot better.