How to keep your licence spotless
30 November 2006 13:00
How can I be spared?
Remember this if you’re stopped by a copper: he may just want to offer some words of advice. A hostile response could turn this into a ticket or court appearance, or at best, a Vehicle Defect Rectification Notice (VDRN) and a ‘producer’, which means the inconvenience of producing your documents later at a police station. The removal of your crash helmet, ear plugs and any balaclava is not only polite, but shows you have nothing to hide. It also makes hearing the cop’s questions easier. Likewise, it also helps to have your documents with you.
Aren’t the police just victimising us?
An officer must have a lawful reason to stop you and their knowledge of the law is greater than most riders. It is best to wait to be told what you have been stopped for before launching into either excuses, or verbal abuse and a suggestion that their time may be better spent catching ‘real criminals.’
Ddo they listen to reason?
If you disagree with anything, the side of the road is not the ideal place to argue. In the worse case scenario, you can argue your case in court. However, a bit of humble pie (though not necessarily grovelling) could make the difference between riding away with a clean licence and getting a handful of points slapped on your licence. Our 12 tips to keeping a clean licence were provided by a serving police officer, who explains under which circumstances there is likely to be a bit of give and take and when it’s best to play safe...
1. Manner of riding: “Don’t weave in and out of traffic or along the outside at high speed paying little attention to obvious hazards, such as junctions. If traffic is moving at or near the posted limit, this is not filtering and could lead to a ‘Driving without due care’ or, even worse, a ‘Dangerous driving’ summons. Save filtering for slower traffic.”
2. Speed: “The most obvious one, as a fast bike tends to stand out. Keep the speed down in the built-up areas and very close to the posted limits and you should be OK. Unlike a camera, an officer will take into account time, weather, traffic conditions, correct use of speed etc in making his decision whether to prosecute, especially on open roads.”
3. Traffic lights: “Jumping lights is daft in any vehicle, but on a bike it is just plain suicidal. Unless they have just gone green, always adjust your speed accordingly on approach and be prepared to stop. There is virtually no latitude given for this offence, for obvious reasons!”
4. Pedestrian crossings: “Overtaking within the approach limits is an offence, likewise overtaking the lead vehicle if filtering. In heavy traffic as long as you show that you have slowed right down and looked for pedestrians and taken obvious care, you should get a fair hearing.”
5. L-plates: “Lack of one or other on obvious learner machines can result in points. They are there for the rider’s safety and with plenty of fixing kits available there is little excuse. They should be clearly visible to other traffic, not airplanes. “Lack of street cred officer” is not going to endear you!”
6. Exhaust cans: “Having illegal cans on a sports bike is almost accepted as the norm by some riders. Most will not attract any more attention than a Harley if the bike is ridden sensibly and not redlined in every gear. Therefore, keep the revs down and the officer with the radar will be less likely to spot you from a great distance.”
7. Number plates: “In most cases as long as it is clearly readable you shouldn’t have too much of a problem. However, offensive slogans move into the world of criminal offences and a plate unreadable by size (must by 9in x 7in minimum) or script (2.5in high x 3/8th of an inch wide) is bound to attract attention.”
8. Tax discs: “Although the law states they should be displayed on the bike, most officers accept they are easy targets for thieves. Under the seat or in you pocket will generally be tolerated. At home? No. The police computer will say if the bike is taxed, before you think of an excuse!”
9. Coloured headlight covers: “The law states it should be a white light to the front. You may get some latitude during the day, but this may well disappear at night for obvious reasons. Flashing blue lights are a no go at any time of the day or night!”
10. Tyres: “Over-size tyres or racing slicks may look cool, but the first is dangerous and the second illegal, even if you are on way home from a trackday. Worn tyres are an easy spot and a guaranteed pull due to their safety nature. They’re a guaranteed VDRN at the very least, for obvious reasons.”
11. Chains: “Over-tight or excessively slack and un-lubricated chains are a hazard and can result in a loss of control of your vehicle. This falls into the ‘Dangerous condition’ category, along with blown fork seals and leaking shocks. Poor maintenance is safety issue, so expect at least a VDRN.”
12. Dark visors: “Excessively tinted and iridium visors do not have the necessary EU safety markings. Not a high priority on a sunny or clear day, but at night or in bad conditions, a likely stopping point for safety reasons. Always carry a clear one with you for a sympathetic hearing.”