• Children under 5 years old need to learn what traffic is, that it can be dangerous, and simple ways of keeping safe, like holding hands
  • 1901 people were killed on GB roads in 2011
  • One of the best ways for children to be safer is for adults to set a good example when using the roads, on foot or in the car
  • The road environment is essential for children’s freedom, development and fitness but roads need to be treated with respect
  • 23,122 people were seriously injured on GB roads in 2011
  • 5 people every day are killed on GB roads
  • Primary school age is the best time for children to learn about using the roads safely, ready for more independent travel when they go up to secondary school
  • Most children under 9 years old are unable to judge how fast vehicles are going or how far away they are
  • LGVs were involved in 12,238 accidents in 2011, resulting in 191 deaths and 1,681 serious injuries
  • The risk of children being involved in a road accident rises when they start secondary school
  • The largest number of pedestrians who are hurt on the roads are between 11 and 15 years of age
  • HGVs were involved in 6,709 accidents in 2011, resulting in 259 deaths and 1,077 serious injuries
  • Secondary school children are likely to take greater risks without thinking about the potential consequences. Teenagers need to be taught how to assess these risks and make informed choices when using the road environment
  • Children are more likely to die in a road collision than from any other accidental cause – but let’s not focus on the negative – you can help!
  • Between ¼ and 1/3 of all road deaths and serious injuries involve people driving for work
  • In 2011 nearly 20% of all car occupants killed or seriously injured were 17-24 years old - when they start driving lessons a good road safety understanding will be invaluable
  • Every day of the year more than 150 vehicles driven on company business crash



This is not intended to be an exhaustive guide to all things motorcycle or Powered Two Wheelers (PTWs) and relevant Regulations and Acts should be consulted for full legal definitions. However, there are a few terms that need explaining and while they are relevant to all forms of motorised transport, they do need re-iterating because they are often ignored when dealing with motorcycles and their use and may be helpful when looking at any other definition, or when intending to purchase a machine.

The information on Driving Licence categories, testing etc. has been taken directly from the DSA website to avoid any confusion as it is comprehensive and factually correct. There is a lot of other information contained on it and it is well worth reading in full if you have any doubts, as only the main points have been reproduced here. www.direct.gov.uk

Top Tips for Motorcyclists

  • Before you start your journey you should always ensure that you are dressed appropriately for the journey- check the weather forecast.
  • Use Ear Plugs to protect your hearing.
  • Check your helmet has a clean visor and is properly fastened before moving off.
  • Make sure your machine is roadworthy, legal and up to the task.
  • Think POWER for Petrol, Oil, Water, Electrics, Rubber (tyres) each time you go out on a daily basis.
  • Pay particular attention to the tyres in terms of tread depth and ensure that they are properly inflated.
  • Concentrate all the time and never assume another road user has seen you.
  • Position yourself to SEE AND BE SEEN.
  • Ride defensively at all times –remember ‘Might has Right’!
  • Use all your senses including smell to detect hazards like diesel spills.
  • Always lock and secure your machine when you have finished your journey and if leaving it for some time, if possible cover it up away from prying eyes.


This is defined as any Highway and any other road to which the public have access and includes any bridges over which a road passes. Bear in mind this means that it extends from building line to building line so encompasses pavements. So riding a motorcycle on a pavement or verge is regarded exactly the same as if it were being ridden on the actual metalled roadway.

Therefore, you need a relevant driving licence, insurance, MOT as applicable and tax disc even if you are riding on the pavement from one place to another. (Riding on the pavement though could lead to you being prosecuted for Dangerous Driving!)

Private Roads, Car Parks and Public Places

Certain parts of the Road Traffic Act such as Dangerous Driving etc. can be applied to areas such as these. Without getting too technical, riding on a deserted car park on a Sunday morning could still get you in trouble if you have no driving licence, insurance etc. and you ride dangerously. In addition, if you overcome any barriers designed to prevent you being there, you could be liable for Civil and Criminal proceedings that have nothing to do with vehicles.

Roads used as a public path (RUPP)

Sometimes known as ‘green lanes’, these often muddy tracks are classed as roads and many regulations, such as possessing a driving licence etc. still apply. You also need to make sure of its classification before you use it - it could be a Bridleway or similar, meaning that if you ride down it you are committing an offence.

Protective Clothing

There are currently no legal requirements to wear protective clothing such as gloves and boots, or any specialised clothing such as leather, or Goretex style fabric riding suits. (Bizarrely, the only legalities in this department refer to any impact absorbing ‘armour’ you might use.)

However, common sense dictates that you need to protect yourself from the elements, if nothing else - a cold or wet rider will lose concentration and this may lead to a crash. So always wear properly designed motorcycle clothing that will come with impact absorption on all the joints as well as abrasion resistance in some form or another.

Modern materials and styles mean that you can now get jeans that have Kevlar inside and give the security along with style and street cred when off the bike. Boots and jackets too, are now just as stylish off the bike as they are protective on it.

Often clothing has reflective materials built in, but these can be supplemented with bibs or waistcoats to ensure other drivers can see you at all times.

It should be borne in mind that while none of this is currently a legal requirement, insurance companies may reduce compensation claims if they feel the rider did not make use of readily available clothing and equipment to help reduce the risk of, and the severity of, any injury sustained in a crash.

Carrying passengers

The law was changed a few years ago and now a learner motorcyclist cannot carry a passenger, irrespective of whether they hold a full motorcycle licence or not.

However, a full licence holder may carry one passenger providing they are seated astride the machine behind the rider with their feet on proper pillion footrests. They are legally required to wear a crash helmet as before unless they are a Sikh wearing a turban.

It is up to the rider to make sure their passenger complies with the law; otherwise they can also be prosecuted and so could you!


A solo motorcycle may tow a trailer as long as they have an engine size above 125cc.

It may not be larger than 1metre wide and may not exceed 2/3rds of the motorcycles weight or exceed 150kg in terms of its maximum weight. A solo motorcycle may tow a broken down solo motorcycle.

It is up to the rider to make sure their passenger complies with the law; otherwise they can also be prosecuted and so could you!

Gopeds and Mini-Bikes

In law both of these are classed as mechanically propelled vehicles and every regulation you can think of for a normal motorcycle applies. Therefore you would need at least a Moped valid driving licence (as most are below 50cc), insurance etc.

However, none of these machines can possibly comply with Construction and Use regulations so cannot ever be registered and put on the road. As a result the foregoing is immaterial - you would not get insurance for one as it is not road legal.

The bottom line is you cannot use these on anything other than private land, (with the landowner’s permission) such as your back garden. Use in a park, woodland, or on the footway is illegal and could get you into serious trouble!


Despite many people regarding these as four-wheeled motorcycles, they are not! Due to the law in this country, if you wish to use a road legal version (most are used for sport or agricultural use) you need a car licence. The usual insurance, MOT are also applicable as well as a road fund licence. If they are not road legal because they do not comply with all the Construction and Use/Lighting regulations etc. they cannot be used other than on private land, with the landowner’s permission.

Although there is no legal requirement for a crash helmet, it makes sense to use one along with protective clothing.

Contrary to popular belief a Quad is not a four-wheeled motorcycle, but is classed as a car and to obtain a full licence for one you will need to pass a car driving test, not a motorcycle test.

To drive a quad bike on the road you need to have a full car licence or a category B1 licence if it was issued before January 1997.


A moped has a maximum design speed not exceeding 50 kilometres per hour (approx. 31 miles per hour). It has an engine up to 50 cubic centimetres (cc). A learner motorcycle has an engine up to 125 cc and a power output not exceeding 11 kiloWatt (kW)


Until you pass your test, i.e. not the CBT, you will need to display ‘L’ plates (or ‘D’ plates in Wales) to the front and rear of your bike. These must be displayed on a flat surface and clearly visible. They must not be cut down in size, or just the ‘L’ displayed and both must be present.

Failing to do this is quite serious and puts points on your licence if you get stopped by police because it is a safety aid for you, so that drivers give you plenty of room. Not displaying because it is not ‘cool’ might be costly in a lot of ways!

Learning to Ride

Thankfully nowadays you cannot just get on your bike and head out onto the road and learn by your mistakes. Whilst supplementing CBT by learning machine control skills off –road is always useful, there is no substitute for on-road training and it is best to sign up with a professional training school that will also be able to assist with your DSA test booking. The other advantage is that a school will able to supply appropriate test machines as well as proper training prior to taking your test which they can also advise on.

You will find approved schools advertising locally or on the web, but as with everything try to go with recommendations.

Post Test Riding

Passing your test is only the start of your riding career and the DSA offers an enhanced rider scheme. You'll get your own trainer to help you make your riding more enjoyable. You can also get insurance discounts with most motorcycle insurance brokers. Full details can be found on the DSA website including a list of approved trainers.

In addition there are many organisations like the Institute of Advanced Motorists and RoSPA who use ex-police officers to train you. They also give a certificate at the end of the course which may entitle you to insurance discounts.

Buying a Motorcycle

Bear in mind the size of bike you are allowed to ride and the licence you hold, or are able to apply for - i.e. don’t buy a one litre sports bike when you can only legally ride a 125cc machine with L-plates (or D-plates). Use specialist motorcycle magazines to work out which is best for you and get some idea of running costs.

Obviously buying from a dealer is best as you will normally be able to buy on finance and have more choice of machine. You will be able to arrange servicing and buy clothing and equipment and, if you are buying secondhand, there is less chance of buying a stolen machine

If that is not an option, make sure you use a knowledgeable friend or parent to go with you and do as many checks as you can, such as HPI to check the bike is legal and above board. Remember, if it seems too good to be true on price and specification, it is, and you should walk away.


Modern motorcycles, like cars, are highly sophisticated pieces of machinery and often need specialised tools to keep them in good condition. It is far more important that a bike is correctly maintained than any car, as often your life will depend on it. Never skimp on servicing.

However, it is up to you, the rider, to make sure you keep an eye on tyre wear and pressures in between services and also to make sure chains are correctly adjusted and lubricated. These basic tasks are well within your capabilities and should not be ignored, for your own safety.

Keeping your motorcycle yours!

Unfortunately, motorcycle theft is always a problem to be dealt with. The modern bike has built in immobilisers and decent locks and it is easy to fit additional alarms. However, the basic problem that it can be picked up and placed in a van is something that has yet to be solved.

The advice is simple - always make sure you use a good quality lock and chain to fix your machine to a solid object even if you have a garage. If it has to be left outside make sure it remains covered so a thief will not know what your bike is and removing the cover puts them at risk of detection.

Spend about a tenth of the bike’s value on security and never park it in the same place each day. Be careful about being followed home and put the bike away as soon as possible, out of sight - likewise when washing it.

Remember, it is all about making life hard for the criminal and making them look elsewhere at easier targets, not at your pride and joy!


To ride a motorcycle on the road you will need to obtain a driving licence for the category of machine you want to ride. (See below for the regulations) You will need a certificate of insurance to cover you to ride the motorcycle and it will need a current Vehicle Excise Licence (VEL) or tax disc. If it is over three years old it will need an MOT certificate.

Please bear in mind the police can now check all of these at the side of the road on their various databases. Not having the above are regarded as serious offences which could affect your riding and driving career in the future.

Download new regulations for January 2013 PDF

Motorcycle License and Ages

Licence category Vehicles you can ride Requirements for licence Minimum age
AM Mopeds with speed range of 25 km/h to 45 km/h Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test on all powered 2-wheeled moped 16
AM Small 3-wheelers (up to 50 cc and below 4 Kilowatt) Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test 16
AM Light quadricycles (weighing under 350 kg, top speed 45 km/h) Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test 16
Q Same as AM plus 2 or 3-wheeled mopeds with top speed of 25 km/h Granted with AM 16
A1 Small motorbikes up to 11 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.1 kW per kg) and 125 cc Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test 17
A1 Motor tricycles with a power output not more than 15 kW Compulsory basic training (CBT), theory test, practical test 17
A2 Medium motorbikes up to 35 kW (and a power-to-weight ratio not more than 0.2 kW per kg), bike mustn’t be derived from vehicle more than twice its power Direct access - theory and practical;
staged access - 2 years experience on A1 motorbike and a further practical test
A Motorbikes unlimited in size/power, with or without a sidecar, and motor tricycles with power output over 15 kW Direct access - CBT theory and practical (you must be at least 24 years old);
Staged access route - held an A2 licence for a minimum of 2 years - practical test (21 or over)

New provisional licensed riders must have a valid compulsory basic training (CBT) certificate to ride on public roads. You must take and pass the theory and practical tests in 2 years. If you don’t pass both parts of your practical test within 2 years of taking theory test, then you’ll have to start the process again.