Driving School Ireland,
Phone 071 9162311 or 087 6688797

Section 16

Rules for motorcyclists

Motorcycles represent less than 1 in 50 of all licensed vehicles in Ireland, but motorcycle users account for 1 in 8 of road deaths. In a crash, motorcycle and moped users have less protection than drivers or passengers in vehicles. This section is aimed at motorcyclists, including those who use mopeds and describes how you can keep yourself safe on the road. Trained motorcyclists around the world prove every day that biking can be a fun, safe and satisfying activity if you have appropriate skills, the right attitude to safety and the benefit of education and training.


You must hold a current driving licence or provisional licence to cover a motorcycle or moped. See Section 1 for information on licences and the categories of vehicle they cover.

Insurance and Tax

You must display a current motor tax disc and have insurance cover before you can take your motorcycle or moped on a public road.

Since December 2010 all new first time learner permit holders for motorcycles must undertake Initial Basic Training (IBT) with an approved IBT instructor, before they can ride a motorcycle unsupervised.

What is IBT?

InitiaI Basic Training (IBT) is a training course that teaches basic riding skills to learner motorcyclists. IBT is a 16-hour course broken into 4 modules focusing on theory and practical skills, to be taken in sequence.

When you have completed each IBT Module your IBT course, your instructor will record the details of your training in your logbook and, once all modules have been completed, issue you with a Certificate of Satisfactory Completion

You must keep your Certificate with your learner’s permit and carry it with you whenever you are riding as you may be asked to produce it by a member of An Garda Siochana.

You can then apply for your practical driving test.

Carrying passengers

You must not carry a passenger if you hold a provisional licence. If you wish to carry a passenger, make sure your full licence and your insurance policy allows you to do so.

Daylight riding

  • Make yourself as visible as possible from the side, as well as the front and rear.
  • Wear a white helmet and fluorescent clothing or strips.
  • Use dipped headlights. Even in good daylight, they may make you more visible.

Night-time riding

  • Wear reflective clothing or strips to improve your chance of being seen in the dark. These reflect light from the headlamps of other vehicles, making you more visible from a long distance.


You must have on your motorcycle or moped:

  • a white or yellow head lamp,
  • a red rear lamp,
  • a red rear reflector, and
  • a number plate light on the back.

In order to be seen at all times it is important to:

  • Use your dipped headlights at all times.
  • Use headlights at night and during the day when visibility is seriously reduced.
  • Slow down, and if necessary stop, if you are dazzled by oncoming headlights.
  • Use full headlights when appropriate to do so.
  • Use your hazard warning lights when your motorcycle or moped is stopped in a dangerous place.
  • Make sure all sidelights and rear number plate lights are lit at night.

Personal protection equipment

Wear appropriate clothing and a secure helmet every time you get on your bike.

Protective clothes

  • Jackets and trousers should give you enough protection from impact, abrasion, cold and weather conditions.
  • Use body armour on exposed areas such as the back, knees, elbows, shoulders, hips and shins. This should be adjustable so it fits snugly and does not move in a crash.
  • You should wear a good reflective jacket, to make you more visible on the road.
  • Wear protective gloves, and footwear that at least comes above the ankle.

protective motorbike clothing


  • Buy from reputable dealers. Try several different sizes and makes. Make sure the dealer knows how to assess fit.
  • Never buy or use second-hand helmets.
  • Never lend your helmet to someone else.
  • If your helmet is damaged, replace it.
  • Read the manual for your helmet and follow the care instructions.
  • Clean your visor gently with warm soapy water.
  • Use a helmet with a clear visor. If you use a dark visor, it will be almost impossible for you to see oil on a wet road.
  • Replace the visor if it is scratched.
  • Make sure your helmet is securely fastened. An unsecured helmet is illegal and useless in a crash.
  • Do your research before you buy. Ensure all equipment meets EU standards.

full protective motorcyclist gear

Eye and ear protection

  • Use ear protection on long journeys.
  • If you wear an open face helmet (one without a chin bar) make sure you wear eye protection.
  • When riding a motorcycle, do not use a personal entertainment system.

Riding the motorcycle

As a motorcyclist you must obey the law governing traffic. You need to develop:

  • a high level of attention;
  • an awareness of likely hazards;
  • good anticipation; and
  • excellent observational skills.

You also need to make the most of the advantages of height, positioning, flexibility and manoeuvrability a motorcycle provides. The ability to sense danger in a situation develops only with experience, so you should always ride within your abilities.

Always make sure that the road space that you intend to enter is completely safe and be aware that others may be looking at larger objects and not the narrow profile of the motorcycle. Gravel chips, sand, pools of water and rough surfaces can seriously de-stabilise motorcycles and can be a cause of crashes. Reduce speed before hazards such as these and continue riding with extreme caution.

motor bike rider

Follow the rules below.

  • Avoid riding between traffic lanes.
  • Keep well clear of other vehicles when passing them. Remember that drivers might not always see you in their 'blind spots'.
  • If your machine is fitted with indicators and a brake light, use them. However, if other road users cannot see these signals, or if you think they might not be working, you should give clear hand signals as well. See section 7 on hand signals.
  • Use rear-view mirrors if your motorcycle or moped is fitted with them. Remember though, not to rely on your mirrors when moving off, changing lane, turning right and overtaking. You should also look over your shoulders and check any 'blind spots'.
  • Your motorcycle tyres must have a tread depth of at least 1 mm, but you should replace them before they become this worn.

checking blind spot

Ten tactics for surviving as a motorcyclist

  1. Watch your surroundings. This means watching:
  • into the far, middle and near distance, and
  • behind you, using your mirrors and checking over your shoulders, before changing position or turning.
  1. Keep your distance. Use the 'two second rule' (see Section 8). In wet or icy conditions, always leave a bigger gap.
  2. Be seen. Make sure your position is correct. Use dipped headlights and wear high visibility clothing (such as a neon vest and 'Sam Browne' reflective belt).
  3. Do not surprise others. Never do anything on the road that could cause another road user to slow down, brake or swerve or that could startle pedestrians.
  4. Think like other road users. Anticipate how other road users might react.
  5. Read the road. In other words, ride to current road, weather and traffic conditions.
  6. Adopt the right speed for the conditions. Never let others dictate your pace.
  7. Never ride your bike after consuming alcohol or drugs.
  8. Trust your machine by maintaining it properly. Follow the acronym POWDERS and check petrol, oil, water, damage, electrics, rubber (tyres) and security.
  9. Take lessons from an experienced instructor. Practice and treat every ride as a chance to improve your skills.

You can get more detailed information on safety and on caring for and maintaining your motorcycle in the booklet This is Your Bike from the Road Safety Authority. Phone Lo-Call 1890 50 60 80, e-mail or visit the website

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