In Virginia, motorcyclists do not have to take a training course in order to get a license. However, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, it does make a difference in how riders may attain a Class M motorcycle designation on their driver’s license. For those who do not complete the Virginia Rider Training Program, there is a knowledge exam and a road skills test. Those who do take the class will have these two requirements waived.
Motorcycle-Central.com notes that there are other reasons a person should consider taking a training course. The instruction and practice take place in a controlled location, such as a parking lot, so the rider gains experience without the possibility of being hit by a vehicle if he or she has a mishap such as tipping the bike. In this environment, the instructor can address issues specific to the motorcyclist and provide tips for overcoming them.
Learning how to respond to motorists is also important because passenger vehicle drivers often do not watch for motorcycles. Riders have little protection in a crash, even with a helmet and other safety gear, so learning defensive maneuvers is essential.
A rider also gains confidence from education. While this may seem like merely a personal benefit, it also has an effect on safety. Knowing how to handle a sudden hazard such as a car suddenly pulling out in front of the motorcycle is not much help if a rider panics. Someone who stays calm can quickly evaluate the situation and determine whether to brake, swerve or go into a slide to make surviving the crash most likely.