Frequently Asked Questions
- Finding/enrolling in an MSF RiderCourse
All training providers manage their own schedules and enrollments, so you’ll need to contact them directly to inquire.
To locate providers near you, please click on the MSF logo in the upper left corner of this page, type your zip code in the “Find A Course Near You” section on the home page, and click on “Search.” The following page will list providers within 50 miles of the zip code that you entered. You can extend that search up to 500 miles by changing the drop-down box at the very top of the page and then clicking on “Search” to refresh the results.
- Lost “Class Completion” Card
MSF does not have access to all student records. While the MSF researches, develops and distributes the safety/training curriculum, each state and military branch administers the actual Motorcycle Safety Program. For card replacement, you would need to contact the site where you took the course. In order to obtain your training site information, you might try contacting your State Coordinator or Military Coordinator.
- License Waiver/License Reciprocity
Upon successful completion of the Basic RiderCourse (BRC), you’ll receive a Course Completion Card. Your state might be one of the many states that waive the on-bike riding skills test and/or the written test required to obtain your motorcycle operator’s license or endorsement if you have a Course Completion Card from a BRC or BRC 2 in your state. It is our goal that any such state also accept a BRC or BRC 2 completion card from any other state or any branch of the military. Please contact your state’s Motorcycle Safety Coordinator if your DMV does not accept an out-of-state completion card.
- Motorcycle License Requirements
We have some basic state-by-state license requirements listed in the “CSI Licensing” document available in the Library/Safety Tips section of our website. Please contact your Department of Motor Vehicles to find out exactly what your state requires for you to get a motorcycle license.
Do you have anything I can read about motorcycle safety?
Visit the Library page and review these three booklets listed under the Safety Tips category:
- “You and Your Motorcycle: Riding Tips” booklet (many manufacturers include this booklet with their new motorcycles)
- “Motorcycle Operator Manual” booklet (many states use this booklet as a basis for their DMV reference handbook for motorcycle license applicants)
- “Sharing The Roadway” booklet for non-motorcyclists
I don’t want to become a RiderCoach but I’d still like to teach motorcycle riders to be safer.…or…I’d like to teach car drivers to be more aware of motorcyclists
We are glad to hear of your interest in promoting motorcycle safety. We have several self-contained curriculum products that can be taught by anyone, especially motorcycle enthusiasts and others who are concerned with traffic safety. Whether you’re a riding club leader, a schoolteacher, or just someone who enjoys the sport of motorcycling, you’ll find it rewarding to present our curricula to your peers, your students, or your community. Visit our online store to purchase the following safety kits:
- Cars, Motorcycles & A Common Road
This kit includes an 8-minute video directed at motorists and provides a driver’s eye view of the special characteristics of motorcyclists. Also comes with Leader’s Guide and ten Student Handbooks. Drivers will learn why a safe motorcyclist will ride in various lane positions, the “two-second” rule for following a motorcyclist, and how to avoid the most common scenarios in which motorists and motorcyclists collide.
- Group Riding Student Handbook & Video
This kit is essentially a group ride training event in a box. The video kit contains the MSF Guide to Group Riding video (16 minutes) and handbooks for a class of ten students. You’ll learn about ride preparation, standards for organization of the ride, and important knowledge such as proper formations in complex traffic situations.
- Riding Straight Module
A stand-alone kit that can be used by RiderCoaches and others who have an interest in conducting seminars or events related to motorcycling and impaired riding. Contains a Facilitator’s Guide, 12-minute Riding Straight video that explains how stress, fatigue, alcohol and other drugs impair a motorcyclist’s skill and judgment, and interactive Fatal Vision® Simulator Goggles. The goggle activities can also be used by anyone willing to be a facilitator for special events, riding club meetings and rallies, and community outreach programs to deliver a message without the formality of a classroom environment. A sample News Release and Event Flyer are included.
- Seasoned Rider Module
A stand-alone kit that can be used for conducting seminars or events related to the effects of aging on a motorcyclist. The kit addresses the need to identify and compensate for factors such as diminished vision, reflexes, and strength in order to manage risk. Contains a Facilitator’s Guide, Seasoned Rider video, a core lesson plan, and several optional learning activities
Can MSF recommend which motorcycle I should purchase?
The MSF cannot make specific recommendations regarding which motorcycle a rider should purchase. Riders may wish to consult with peers and dealership personnel, and may research manufacturer publications (brochures and websites) and enthusiast magazines for reviews and recommendations.
- Traditionally, novice street riders purchase smaller motorcycles on which to gain experience before investing in larger, more powerful motorcycles. Be aware that some manufacturers note in their publications that certain sport-bike models are intended for experienced riders.The MSF strongly recommends that you take a Basic RiderCourse in your area, to decide if motorcycling is right for you, to prepare you for riding in traffic, and to secure a waiver for all or part your state’s motorcycle operator’s licensing test, if applicable.
- Are motorcycles safe?…or…I keep hearing scary statistics on motorcycle safety.…or…How can I convince my spouse/parents/etc. that I’d be a safe motorcyclist?
Pure statistics do not tell the whole story of motorcycle safety. Generally speaking, motorcyclists – as well as bicyclists and pedestrians — are more vulnerable than other roadway users to injury in traffic collisions since they don’t have the advantage of being cocooned within 3,000 pounds of steel. That’s why the Motorcycle Safety Foundation strongly encourages motorcyclists to minimize the risk by riding responsibly, wearing protective gear, taking a hands-on rider training course, getting licensed, riding within your personal limits, and riding free of alcohol or other drugs (note that 31 percent of motorcyclists who died in crashes were impaired). In our RiderCourses and in our safety publications, we stress the need to learn and use effective mental strategies such as SEE: Search, Evaluate, Execute. This strategy helps riders manage risk by detecting and avoiding potentially hazardous traffic situations. Some riders also use the strategy of assuming they’re invisible to other motorists, because other motorists may not be on the lookout for motorcycles. Wearing brightly colored protective apparel helps increase visibility, and frequent inspection of the motorcycle helps decrease the likelihood of a crash due to mechanical failure. The maneuverability and small size of a motorcycle can be used in some situations to avoid crashes. While there are many steps a motorcyclist can take to reduce risk, it can never be eliminated. More than 9,000,000 American motorcyclists enjoy the sport, and the trend is that more and more people are turning to motorcycles as a practical, efficient and enjoyable form of personal transportation.
If you haven’t ridden before, we suggest that you and your spouse/parent/whoever take our Basic RiderCourse and use that as a basis for discussion of the risks and rewards of motorcycling, before making a decision to purchase a motorcycle.
- Headlight Modulators
The MSF has not taken an official position on headlight modulators. We do support methods of increasing conspicuity that are acceptable within state’s statutory regulations. Modulators have been shown to be as effective as high-beam headlight use. The MSF cautions that measures to improve conspicuity should not replace a good riding strategy (“SEE” — Search, Evaluate, Execute) to ensure an adequate time and space safety margin.
- I have an idea/invention for a new safety device/enhancement for motorcycles. Will MSF help me design/promote/sell it?
MSF’s policy as it relates to the issue of invention submissions and product endorsement is:
- MSF’s mission is to develop and promote motorcycle rider training and education;
- MSF does not get involved in matters of engineering, manufacture, or design of motorcycles; and,
- MSF cannot evaluate any submissions of patents, product information disclosures, or other technological ideas that are purported to enhance safety.
So, we are not authorized to evaluate, endorse or distribute your product. MSF wishes you success in pursuing other avenues to market your product.
- Web Links/Link Exchange
You can link to our site (www.msf-usa.org) from your site without permission. You can use the words “Motorcycle Safety Foundation” or the abbreviation “MSF” on your website as a label for your link, but you cannot post our logo on your website as a label for your link or for any other purpose. On the other hand, MSF only links to member company and rider training sponsor websites.
- Will MSF market my product in its Online Store?
At this time, we are not seeking any new products to market through our online store.
- Copying material from this website
Our permission policy depends on how much you want to reprint. Brief excerpts just require that you attribute the text to Motorcycle Safety Foundation, and you do not need to ask us for permission. Large portions require a license agreement. If you want to use large portions of text, or a complete page of this site, please send us an email (using the link below) describing the section you wish to use and how you intend to use it. However, you are free to copy, host, or distribute the videos posted on our homepage and the Quick Tips sheets posted in our Library.
- What is MSF? Who funds it?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is a national, not-for-profit organization promoting the safety of motorcyclists with programs in rider training, operator licensing and public information. The MSF is sponsored by the U.S. manufacturers and distributors of BMW, BRP, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Indian Motorcycle, Kawasaki, KTM, Suzuki, Triumph and Yamaha.
- I’m having a problem with my motorcycle/my dealership/the manufacturer/etc. Can MSF get involved and help me?
The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) is a developer of rider training curricula and public information campaigns for motorcyclists. MSF generally does not get involved in product-related issues between motorcycle purchasers and retail dealerships, insurance companies, or manufacturers.
- How do I become a RiderCoach/RCT?
You must be a licensed motorcyclist, at least 18 years old, with a good driving record who currently rides on a frequent, routine basis. You should have several years of varied riding experience. As a teacher, you need good communication skills. As a RiderCoach, you’ll be called upon to give your time to help teach RiderCourses. Although you may get paid, you won’t become rich in this field. A sincere desire to help reduce motorcycle accidents, injuries, and deaths is the prime motivator of RiderCourse RiderCoaches. Please visit the Instructor Certification section via the RiderCoach Info link here.
- RiderCoach Certification/Re-Activation
You should receive your re-certification survey three months prior to your anniversary. If you are an active RiderCoach, you must recertify every two years in order to keep your certification. To see when you should recertify, please check the expiration date on your RiderCoach card. You may now recertify online by visiting www.retsorg.org and clicking “Profile” from the toolbar and then “Self Report” on the left of the Profile page. If you are a new RETSORG user, enter your MSF RiderCoach ID in both spaces provided (User Name and Password). You will then be prompted to change your password. Enter your MSF ID as your current password and enter a new password that you will easily remember. Click save and you will get a message that confirms that your password was changed. You can change your address, phone and email at any time. The new password that you establish in RETSORG will also allow you access into the new MSF Online Store.
- RiderCoach Change of Address
As an Active RiderCoach, you may now update your personal profile online. Visit www.retsorg.org and change your contact information by clicking “Profile” located on the toolbar. If you are a new RETSORG user, enter your MSF RiderCoach ID in both spaces provided on the login page (User Name and Password). You will then be prompted to change your password. Enter your MSF ID as your current password and enter a new password that you will easily remember. Click SAVE and you will get a message that confirms that your password was changed. You can change your address, phone and email at any time. The new password that you establish in RETSORG will also allow you access into the new MSF Online Store.
- How do I start my own training site?
Your first step in starting a training site is to contact the State Coordinator for rider education in your state (if applicable). Contact information for State Coordinators can be found here.
If your state does not have a State-legislated Motorcycle Safety Program or no point of contact, please send us an email.
- To contact your State or Military Coordinator
State Motorcycle Safety Coordinators
Military Motorcycle Safety Coordinators
If the FAQ’s do not address your question or comment, please email us here.
You can also write to us at:
2 Jenner, Suite 150
Irvine, CA 92618
- View our website policies.
Motorcycling in the U.S. was a niche activity for the first half of the 20th century. Although there are nearly 9 million motorcycles registered for street use today, fewer than 600,000 bikes were registered annually before 1960. The decade of the 1960s witnessed the introduction in America of smaller, lightweight, inexpensive Japanese-made motorcycles. Led by Honda and followed by other new entrants, and fueled by a wave of Baby Boomers reaching license age, motorcycling went mainstream, and registration figures soared, reaching 2.8 million by 1970 and 5.5 million by 1975.
Along with the rise in use came a rise in motorcycle crashes and deaths. However, in the 1960s there was little in the way of motorcycle crash research or accident countermeasures. The initial government reaction to the problem came in 1967 from the Department of Transportation, which simply focused on protective gear.
At that time few states required any special license or examination of those who wished to operate a motorcycle on public roads. Typically, if one held a valid automobile operator’s license it would simply be endorsed by state authorities for motorcycle operation as well. Whereas enthusiasts and safety professionals in other countries had begun to formalize the training process by writing step-by-step training curricula so experienced motorcyclists could assume the role of instructor, in the late 1960s most American riders learned from their friends or siblings or by trial-and-error.
A Call To Action
In 1972, representatives of BSA, Harley-Davidson, Honda, Kawasaki, Suzuki, and Yamaha, acting through the Motorcycle Industry Council (a not-for-profit, national trade association that had existed under various names since 1914), proposed a cooperative effort to create broad-based programs to improve motorcycle operator competence, and established the Motorcycle Industry Council Safety and Education Foundation, Inc. (MICSEF). The MICSEF’s five primary program areas were:
- Determination of motorcycle operator tasks, knowledge and skills
- Implementation of novice safety education and training
- Operator improvement
- Operator licensing
- Non-motorcyclist safety education
MICSEF engaged the Human Resources Research Organization (HumRRO) to develop a plan to accomplish these objectives. The resulting “Motorcycle Safety Plan” was a blueprint for a comprehensive motorcycle safety program focused primarily on human factors.
Tasks included working with federal, state and local safety officials, educational institutions, professional and technical associations, motorcycle clubs and other motorcycle safety-oriented entities (including American Automobile Association, American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration); producing instructional materials and audio-visual aids; establishing uniform operating practices; and developing maintenance and inspection training programs.
Non-motorcyclist safety education was also given a high priority, because anecdotal evidence at the time indicated what we now know through decades of research: “The American motorist [car and truck driver] is having great difficulty safely sharing the roads and highways with the motorcyclist. This type of motorcycle safety education must be integrated into all driver education programs.” (MICSEF Talking Paper, 1973)
A Focus on Hands-On Education: The Beginning RiderCourse℠
Upon acceptance of this Motorcycle Safety Plan, MICSEF set about changing the face of motorcycle education in the U.S. Along with a name change to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation, in 1973 MSF became a completely separate corporation from MIC, with its own board of trustees, membership, mission, and over 25 full-time dedicated staff who worked solely for the MSF. From the very beginning, MSF’s mission had been to promote, foster, and encourage the safety of riders and provide education consistent with the public interest.
Among the foundation’s major program areas, education has received the greatest emphasis since day one. Motorcycle accident data indicated that a substantial portion involved riders with limited experience (roughly several months to one year). Education was seen as the best opportunity to reduce risk to the operator, particularly during the early months of operation. This strategy was later confirmed by the “Motorcycle Accident Cause Factors and Identification of Countermeasures” study from 1981 (also known as the Hurt Report), which showed that trained riders were under-represented in crash fatalities.
MSF’s field-based experimental research is used for examining the effectiveness of new curricular programs, as well as refinements in current curriculum strategies and procedures. Combined with MSF’s institutional knowledge and subject-matter expertise, these research efforts are being applied toward the real-world goal of improving student outcomes through contemporary rider education programs.
In the MSF 100 Motorcyclists Naturalistic Study, MSF partnered with the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute on this world’s first large-scale, naturalistic motorcycle riding study. The 3.5-year study began by collecting data from instruments installed on motorcycles owned by study participants in Virginia, California, Florida and Arizona as the bikes were ridden in normal day-to-day use. Sensors and video cameras recorded all motorcycle operator inputs such as steering, acceleration, braking and lean, as well as recording all motions of the motorcycle, current riding conditions and the actions of surrounding traffic. The motorcycle instrumentation was designed to be as inconspicuous as possible, so that participant-riders would forget their rides were being monitored. The data collected will be a rich source of insight for years to come on a wide range of questions and points of interest for an international array of rider safety professionals.
The MSF establishes certification standards, recognized both within the U.S. and internationally, provides technical assistance for training and licensing, and actively participates in government relations, research, quality-assurance and public awareness programs. The MSF also works in partnership with other motorcycling and public and private sector safety-related entities, both U.S. and international, such as the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the U.S. Transportation Research Board, the U.S. Department of Defense, state governments, the Governors Highway Safety Association, the National Safety Council, AAA, the International Association of Chiefs of Police, and the Institut für Zweiradsicherheit (German Institute for Motorcycle Safety).
Forty-five states and all branches of the U.S. military use the Motorcycle Safety Foundation’s Basic RiderCourse (BRC) curriculum for their motorcycle safety and education programs. The BRC is MSF’s primary learn-to-ride curriculum for traditional two-wheel and three-wheel motorcycles, involving approximately 3 hours of online instruction, 5 hours of classroom activities, and 10 hours of hands-on skills development on a paved lot. More than 8 million motorcyclists have enrolled in MSF RiderCourses since 1974. More than 400,000 students now take the course annually, at nearly 2,700 sites, with 9,900 MSF-certified RiderCoaches available to guide them.
Course graduates are often eligible for insurance discounts and incentives from motorcycle distributors for course tuition or fees. In many cases, they can obtain a waiver for the riding skill test and/or written knowledge test portion of their state’s license exam requirements.
The MSF Rider Education and Training System
The MSF develops and maintains hands-on courses, classroom training programs, and “Host an Event” self-paced learning kits through its Rider Education and Training System (RETS). Primary goals are advancing safety, enhancing riding and continuously improving the class offerings, while delivering them in an effective, cost- and time-efficient manner, all for the benefit of current and prospective riders.
RETS represents a dynamic system providing opportunities for motorcyclist learning, growth and renewal. It blends into a cohesive whole four primary elements: 1) Variety of programs and services, 2) Varied skill levels and motivations of motorcyclists, 3) Talent and resourcefulness of MSF-certified RiderCoaches and other stakeholders, and 4) Broad range of delivery partners who interact with motorcyclists as well as non-motorcyclists.
RETS allows for personalized education and training with instruction matched to particular interests and skill levels. Integral to RETS is the concept of flexibility for jurisdictions, allowing each jurisdiction the opportunity to tailor a program to fit its specific needs (graduated licensing, additional emphasis on the serious risks of impaired riding, etc.).
All 24 MSF RiderCourses are developed using a sequential “interactive and intergroup” process, ensuring that the final program has undergone extensive field-testing before being released to the public. This ensures the proper application of contemporary learning principles and practices, and verifies the effectiveness and efficiency of the program. As the scientific community yields rigorous research results that lead to better methods to facilitate learning, and as the motorcycling community embraces improved ways to achieve safety and enjoyment from riding experiences, the MSF will continuously assess and refine its programs.
Another aspect of RETS involves ensuring that courses are facilitated according to MSF’s standards. MSF offers a unique Quality Assurance Specialist certification to top-level RiderCoaches and RiderCoach Trainers who wish to make themselves available to monitor and evaluate their peers and develop program and curriculum delivery improvement plans.
A key component of a comprehensive, national motorcycle safety program is motorcyclist testing and licensing. In cooperation with the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, the MSF supports state testing and licensing processes. The MSF has developed a model Motorcycle Operator Manual and written tests, along with the Rider Skills Test hands-on test, which were created using the same research-based development processes as the curricula. They also serve as a complement to the education and training information contained in the MSF RETS. Licensing agencies in more than 30 states use one of five different MSF skill tests as part of their motorcycle endorsement procedures. More than 40 states use MSF’s Motorcycle Operator Manual as their license applicant study book, and many incorporate the related knowledge test.
The MSF Government Relations Office, located near the nation’s capital, promotes the best interests of motorcyclists before the U.S. Congress and federal regulatory agencies, as well as at state legislatures and regulatory agencies. Among its many duties, the Government Relations Office monitors state laws and rules to identify areas for improvement.
As an advocate of motorcycle safety and awareness, Government Relations staff also represent the MSF in various forums such as the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration motorcycle safety network meetings, the Transportation Research Board Motorcycle and Moped Committee meetings, the Motorcyclist Advisory Council to the Federal Highway Administration, meetings of the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators, and liaison with the National Transportation Safety Board.
MSF maintains a “worldview with a U.S. focus” strategy. This allows the foundation to be responsive to the needs of American motorcyclists, accounting for the known variables of rider and driver habits, traffic patterns, roadway designs, crash scenarios, and vehicle/demographic trends, while considering crash research and countermeasures implemented in other countries.
Education for Non-Motorcyclists
Data indicate that more than half of all fatal motorcycle crashes involve another vehicle. Most of the time, the car or truck driver, not the motorcyclist, is at fault. There are many more car and truck drivers than motorcyclists on the road, and some drivers don’t “recognize” a motorcyclist in their field of view. To complement MSF’s efforts to enhance motorcyclist skills and strategies, MSF launched the Intersection motorist awareness kit and the ForCarDrivers.com website to help educate non-motorcyclists. Intersection is a multi-use program that can be tailored to teens (via driver education classes), adults (via traffic schools), and commercial drivers (via employee orientation).
For car and truck drivers, the MSF has five key messages:
- Please Look For Motorcyclists – Use your eyes and mirrors to see what’s around.
- Focus On Driving – Hang up and drive, no texting, put down the food, the pet, the personal grooming gear, and the reading material and save it for later.
- Use Your Turn Signals – Signal your intentions. It’s also the law.
Give Two-Wheelers Some Room – Don’t tailgate or get too close side by side.
- Keep It in the Car – Don’t throw trash and cigarettes out the window, and securely lash down cargo that can fall out on the road and be a deadly hazard.
Summary: MSF, an Independent Safety-Minded Organization
MSF exists to advance rider education and training as a safety countermeasure. As an independent, non-governmental organization, MSF:
- Is funded by a diverse group of multi-national motorcycle manufacturers/distributors that have a common, non-competitive focus on rider safety.
- Has led the push to standardize and formalize contemporary rider education programs since 1973.
- Interacts with similar entities worldwide for the development and implementation of effective safety countermeasures.
- Benefits from having staff members with extraordinary competencies and credentials in education, management, leadership, safety, program development and quality assurance functions.
- Designs, develops, tests and implements motorcyclist safety programs based on rigorous academic and scientific underpinnings, including primary research initiatives.
- Develops audio-visual training aids that support its rider safety programs.
- Maintains a nationwide quality assurance program to ensure the integrity of its curricula.
- Maintains a certification process to ensure the highest level of professionalism among its RiderCoaches.
- Designs, develops, and validates motorcyclist license knowledge and skill tests in collaboration with licensing agencies.
- Maintains two informative safety-related websites (msf-usa.org; ForCarDrivers.com) for public use, with free videos and literature available.
To help motorcycle riders realize their full potential, elevating awareness of motorcycling safety in order to save lives.
MSF is the country’s leading safety resource and advocate for motorcyclists. We create world-class education and training systems for riders of every experience level. We raise public awareness of motorcycling to promote a safe riding environment.
Board of Trustees
Manager, Market Analytics & Product Education Group
Kawasaki Motors Corp., U.S.A.
Government Affairs – Manager
Harley-Davidson Motor Company, Inc.
Suzuki Motor USA, LLC.
Western Regional Sales Manager
KTM North America, Inc.
ELP Manager, Human Resources Division
Yamaha Motor Corporation, U.S.A.
Motorcycle Global Standards Development
Indian Motorcycle and Polaris Inc.
Rider Training Administrator
American Honda Motor Co., Inc.
Sr. Business Manager
Can-Am On-Road Division
Triumph Motorcycles America
Shawn F. McLean
Sales Planning and Distribution Manager
BMW Motorrad USA
President & CEO
Vice President Compliance & General Counsel
Vice President, Training Systems
Vice President, Training Operations
Director of Rider Education Expansion
Director, Special Projects
Our vision: To help motorcycle riders realize their full potential, elevating awareness of motorcycling safety in order to save lives.