Motorcycling for Old-Timers: A Low Blow from the DMV

Written by Tim Kessel, Courtesy of

As you may have read in one of my recent articles, I was hit with a big speeding ticket (Wake up Call). To make a long story short, I opted to take the DMV’s Defensive Driving Course to avoid the points on my record.  In my state, you can take the course online, so I gave it a try.  Predictably, much of the course was so far below the common sense line that it was subterranean.  However, I knew there would eventually be a motorcycle-specific section.

After a couple of hours of reading, watching online videos, and taking quizzes – there it was.  The section began by extolling the virtues of wearing helmets (I agree), watching for bad drivers (again, agreed), and keeping speed in check (well, two out of three ain’t bad).  Just when I was about to nod off, I clicked to the page entitled “Motorcycling Tips for Older Riders.”  What the heck?  Did the DMV read the date line on the ticket and write the section for me?

Well, here are the actual tips in the section, and my thought process while reading:

1. Get Eyes Checked: Vision clarity and peripheral vision diminish with age.
My thoughts… “Good point!  With better distance vision I would have spotted the Highway Patrol cruiser in time to hit the Brembos quicker!”

2. Keep A Greater Following Distance: Reacting to a hazard may take twice as long for a rider in middle age (40-54) and three or four times longer after 55.
My thoughts… “Ouch! At least I’m still years away from that that ominous 55 benchmark.”

3. Avoid Complicated and Congested Roads: Input overload makes it difficult to process information accurately.
My thoughts… “You can have your congested roads – just give me miles of twisties with no patrol cars.”

4. Pay Attention to Blind Spots: Traffic research shows that older drivers do not check blind spots as well as younger drivers.
My thoughts… “Blind spots? I’m just glad not to have a bald spot.”

5. Keep Fit: Riding a motorcycle can be physically demanding and without training, people begin losing muscle mass around age 30.
My thoughts… “For your information, I bench press more and run farther than I did when I was thirty.”

6. Choose a Friendly Motorcycle: Choose a motorcycle with large dials and easy-to-read symbols.
My thoughts… “Now that’s just rude.”

So there you have it – the DMV’s tips for those of us with a little grey at the temple.  That’s all I can write for now.  The shuffleboard tournament is about to start.


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