Moped and motorcycle safety

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Mopeds and motorcycles share many of the same safety issues, although motorcycles have stronger engines and can travel faster:

  • Moped: a two or three-wheeled vehicle with an engine that is not more than 50 cc and cannot exceed 50 km/h. Mopeds do not require a motorcycle licence and can be driven by anyone with a Class 5 driver’s licence in any stage of the Graduated Driver Licence program.
  • Motorcycle: a two-wheeled motor vehicle with an engine capacity exceeding 50 cc and can travel faster than 50 km/h. You require a Class 6 licence to operate a motorcycle.


  • All standard equipment for a moped or motorcycle should be in working order. Correct size and weight of a motorcycle helps ensure safe operation.
  • Wearing proper safety gear can reduce injuries if you are involved in a collision. Wear an approved helmet, eye protection, visible and protective clothing and boots.
  • Position of footpegs and handlebars should be comfortable and allow the ability to manipulate all controls easily and accurately.
  • You should be able to lift your motorcycle upright if it falls over.
  • The kill switch is particularly important on automatic scooters/mopeds. Turn your scooter or moped off with the kill switch every time so you know it works and you will instinctively know where it is located in an emergency. If the throttle sticks, it is critical that your kill switch is operational.
  • Before you ride, conduct a safety check. Consult your owners’ manual on inspecting for wear and tear. Check for tire wear, brake cable fraying and electrical inspection.


  • Conditions contributing to motorcycle crashes include driver distraction, driving while impaired, losing control speeding and following too closely.
  • Ride defensively, especially at dawn and dusk due to reduced visibility.
  • Sit in a position where your elbows are slightly bent when your hands are on the handle bars. Keep your back straight and lean slightly forward to reduce wind resistance.
  • Hold the throttle with your wrist lowered, so you can easily reach the brake with your fingers.
  • When moving, your feet should be level, firmly on the foot pegs and ready to use the foot controls at all times.

Starting a moped

  • The most stable way to take your moped off the centre stand is to straddle it and push it forward with both hands on the handlebars, applying the brakes as required.
  • Don’t start your vehicle until you have taken it off the stand and are in a seated position with both feet on the ground.
  • If you have to kick start your vehicle or warm it up while it is on the centre stand, ensure that your use the straddle technique and apply the brakes as you roll it forward.
  • Don’t push your vehicle while it is running. Your grip on the bars will naturally accelerate the bike, particularly if you stumble.
  • If you must move your vehicle while it is running, straddle it and walk it while sitting on the seat.

Starting a motorcycle

  • A controlled start requires smooth coordination of the clutch and throttle.
  • You must be able to start, upshift and downshift without jerking the motorcycle or lugging the engine.
  • When downshifting, pull in the clutch and slightly increase the engine speed.
  • If the engine speed does not match the speed of the motorcycle, the rear wheel may skid when the clutch is released.

On the road

Lane Position

  • Ride where you can see other traffic and where they can see you. Never ride in other motorists’ blind spots.
  • Occupy your lane in a position that discourages drivers from moving alongside you.
  • Stay near the centre of your lane, without riding on the centre strip between the two tire tracks, which may be slippery.
  • Scan ahead for road hazards.
  • Keep to the right side of your lane when approaching the crest of a hill or riding around corners.
  • When riding on a multi-lane roadway, ride in the dominant position (the track that is closest to the line separating the lanes traveling in the same direction). This gives you an area you can manoeuver into, should you be forced out of the tire track that you are riding in. It also reduces the chance of another motorist boxing you in.
  • Signal and shoulder check before changing from one traffic lane to another. When changing from one tire track to the next within the same lane, you must shoulder check and signal prior to moving.


  • Ride where the motorist ahead can see you in the rear view mirror.
  • Use a four-second following distance when following another vehicle under ideal driving conditions.


  • Always signal well in advance, even if moving from tire track to tire track.
  • When passing parked cars on a street with marked lanes, ride in the left track of the passing lane and reduce your speed.
  • When passing parked cars on residential streets, ride a reasonable distance (approx. 1.3 to 1.8 m) from the cars.
  • If a vehicle is overtaking or passing you, keep in the left tire track.
  • When meeting oncoming traffic, especially large vehicles, be prepared to move to the right of your lane to avoid air turbulence.


Most collisions occur at intersections with vehicles making left turns or entering from side streets. To avoid a collision at an intersection:

  • Look ahead, behind, left and right to assess an intersection for potential dangers.
  • Be prepared to stop.
  • Always move into position well ahead of the intersection so that other road users know you are not going to turn.
  • If an oncoming driver wants to turn left, slow down and be ready to move to the left or right of your lane, whichever will give you more space.
  • If a car is about to enter from the right side of the intersection, move to the left of your lane and be prepared to stop.
  • If traffic is entering the intersection from both sides, stay in the left tire track in your lane to even out the space on either side, and be prepared to stop.
  • Never cut between lanes of traffic to pass. There is no room to manoeuver and no way out should a door open in front of you or a vehicle change positions within the lane.


All road users need to keep an eye out for hazards. Use caution when riding on slippery or uneven surfaces and loose material, and keep an eye out for debris, potholes and cracks.

When you’re on the road, you should be constantly scanning ahead looking for potential dangers. If you spot a hazard, slow down. At night or in poor riding conditions, be extremely cautious – spotting a hazard early and reacting calmly can help you avoid a potentially dangerous situation.

Slippery surfaces

Slippery surfaces reduce friction between vehicles’ tires and road surface. Be careful of wet surfaces, oil slicks, snow and ice. If you cannot avoid riding on slippery surfaces:

  • Reduce your speed and avoid sudden moves.
  • Avoid puddles where possible, which can hide potholes or other hazards.
  • Use brakes smoothly and gradually.
  • Shift to a lower gear for better traction and release the clutch gradually.
  • Watch for frost and black ice, which reduce traction drastically.

Loose material

Loose material such as sand, gravel, mud or leaves, may make paved roads slippery. When approaching loose material on a roadway:

  • Reduce your speed and grip your handlebars firmly.
  • Raise your body slightly off the seat for better balance and move slightly to the rear for better traction.
  • Keep your arms and wrists loose to permit the front wheel to move a little.

Rough or uneven surfaces

Try to avoid crossing rough surfaces such as bumps, broken pavement or potholes. If you cannot avoid them:

  • Keep as upright as possible and reduce speed.
  • Stand up slightly on the foot pegs with your knees flexed to absorb the impact. Keep your arms relaxed and your head up.
  • Riding over grated surfaces, as found on some bridges, may cause vibration and wandering back and forth. Don’t try to counter this movement, but keep your speed constant and ride straight across.
  • Cross railway tracks at an angle of 45 degrees or more to eliminate the need for swerving.

Safety resources

It’s a good idea to take a safety course from Safety Services Manitoba. A comprehensive review of driving and safety rules for a moped or motorcycle is available in our Motorcycle Handbook. To learn more, see this 60 Second Driver video on motorcycle awareness

and this 60 Second Driver video on late motorcycle season.