By: KGD Law
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Letting Teens Drive Motorcycles in Florida
Just about every kid has a desire to ride a motorcycle either during early childhood or as a teenager. That dream is many parents’ nightmare. When adults drive motorcycles, they are relatively safe (generally speaking) as long as there are no accidents. However, a minor operating a motorcycle adds less maturity, faulty decision-making, thrill-seeking, and dangerous behavior to the mix. This isn’t always the case, but it is important to make sure your teen understands the risks involved in riding before he or she gets on a bike. Letting teens drive motorcycles in Florida requires education, practice, and knowledge of the law.
When Can Teens Drive Motorcycles in Florida?
Teens can drive motorcycles in Florida when they are 16 years of age provided they have a motorcycle endorsement or a motorcycle only license. Florida will reciprocate motorcycle endorsements from other states as long as the rider has proof of passing a basic rider course (BRC) with the license.
In order to get a motorcycle endorsement or motorcycle only license before a person turns 18, they must have a learner’s permit. The rider must have had this permit for an entire year with no traffic violations or criminal convictions, then the DMV will issue the endorsement. These permits are available at the age of 15, and they require parental consent.
Education Helps Teens Drive Motorcycles Safely
Class E License
In order to get a motorcycle endorsement, a rider must pass a normal class E driver’s license test. This ensures that the rider has proper knowledge of traffic rules, traffic signals, and right of way rules. These are particularly essential on a vehicle without an enclosure. This is because incorrectly navigating the roadways in a car may result in a fender bender while the same accident in a motorcycle can be very dangerous.
Basic Rider Course (BRC)
As noted previously, teens must take a basic rider course (BRC) before the DMV will provide a motorcycle endorsement. This course is meant to educate the new rider in technique. Things that may seem simple to the seasoned rider are taught in this 15-hour course. This includes:
- Riding in a straight line
It is essentially a driver’s education class for a motorcycle, but these things are more difficult to learn on two wheels. Of course, many students have already practiced riding a motorcycle on private property previously. For the newcomer, the BRC can be a challenge.
There is another BRC called BRC updated, which includes more realistic scenarios in its teachings. There are also 3-wheel BRCs that only allow a rider to operate vehicles with 3 or more wheels and also a sidecar/trike education program.
Basic Rider Course 2 (BRC 2)
Once your teen has been riding his or her motorcycle, there is a one-day course available for “experienced” riders. This course offers additional instruction in braking and cornering at higher speeds and in situations that require more knowledge to safely maneuver. Like the BRC, the BRC 2 also has an updated version.
The BRC 2 is meant for experienced riders, but it brings to mind an important point regarding teens and riding. The more education they receive, the more reality sinks in that riding a motorcycle is a responsibility. It can be fun and exciting, but it isn’t a toy. This mindset can greatly reduce behaviors that would cause harmful accidents.
Practice is Essential
All new motorcycle riders should practice riding as often as possible to cement the new driving skills they have learned. Some riders immediately go for long rides with friends or head out to the freeway for longer commutes. If this isn’t necessary, a new rider should work up to more challenging roadways.
When looking for places to practice, parking lots are a good first stop. This allows the new rider to get more comfortable with starting and stopping, which can be a challenge in traffic. Once the teen is managing these skills well outside of traffic, he or she can move into a more trafficked setting. This means small towns or residential areas where there will be less stress. A bunch of cars honking at your teen to get moving can increase stress and sour the driving experience.
Busy freeways aren’t the best place to start, and long freeway trips should be avoided for the new rider. Navigating around semi trucks and high speed conditions are not advisable at first. Country highways are a great way to teach your teen how to handle higher speeds, how to enjoy the ride, and how to corner. Highways are actually some of the easiest drives for new riders because there isn’t a lot of acceleration and deceleration (starting and stopping). It is a great way to show your teen the pleasures of motorcycle riding.
Especially in the beginning, encourage your teen to practice riding his or her motorcycle as much as possible. If there is a gap in training, start from the beginning. There’s nothing wrong with a little parking lot prelude to a street ride. Sometimes even the experienced rider needs to brush up on some skills.
Knowledge of the Law Improves Teen Driving
Teens must have some knowledge of the law in order to get their class E licenses, but it is good to refresh that knowledge once in a while. Although your teen may cringe at the thought of continued education, there are more clever and enjoyable ways to insert knowledge into his or her life.
Don’t sit your teen down and make him or her read the driver’s handbook. Instead, watch YouTube videos about new safety gear or interesting motorcycle accidents with investigatory follow-up. Review the news for accidents or other motorcycle happenings and discuss what went wrong with your teen. This real-world application of knowledge helps your teen to understand the law but also appreciate why it exists. This will lead to safer riding practices and instill good habits.
Letting Go and Letting Your Teen Ride
Like everything else you’ve taught your teen, teaching them to ride is not so much in your hands as it is their own, but you can help to guide the process. That is why Florida has the rule about taking the BRC, as it is up to your teen to learn the skills necessary to safely ride.
Riding is a big responsibility, and your teen must realize that safe riding isn’t only about preventing accidents with other vehicles. It is also about self-preservation. Each corner must be approached with forethought. He or she needs to be constantly scanning for hazards. If these skills are taught initially, they will become second-nature. You will be able to let go and let your teen have fun riding knowing that he or she is mentally equipped to ride in a manner that gets them home safe each night. There’s definitely some work involved in letting teens drive motorcycles safely, but it is worth the effort. Once they have learned proper technique and learned some appreciation for the pavement, they will ride in a way that keeps them safe from injury.
If you or a loved one has suffered injuries in a motorcycle accident, contact the Law Offices of Kirshner, Groff, and Diaz for a consultation. You’ll speak to an experienced attorney right away to discuss the details of your case.