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Is It Safe for Kids to Be Passengers on a Motorcycle

Riding motorcycles is a hobby and even a passion for people of all ages and backgrounds. According to research, there is a growing number of people who own motorcycles, including female riders. 

Since many families own a motorcycle, it also means that it’s more common to see kids on the back. 

However, you do have to decide if it’s safe for a child to be a passenger on a motorcycle and, if so, what you need to do as a parent to make sure you’re following the rules.

What Are the Laws?

In many states, there aren’t any minimum age requirements to ride a motorcycle as a passenger. To legally operate a motorcycle, most states say that young people have to be at least 16, just like driving a car. 

Interestingly, in many states, there are laws that require children under a certain age are in the right safety restrain system when they’re in a car, yet this doesn’t apply to motorcycles. 

While there aren’t necessarily many laws dictating when a child can ride on a motorcycle, there are other requirements that should be met. The Motorcycle Handbook lists the requirements as proper precautions, which is what any motorcycle passenger should follow, especially kids. 

The precautions for a child passenger include a motorcycle that has a passenger seat and footrests. The passenger should be able to comfortably reach the footrests, and passengers should always wear a snug-fitting, federally approved helmet. Children should also wear durable but comfortable clothing, including long pants, a thick jacket, and closed-toe shoes. 

Getting the Right Helmet

If you’re going to have your child as a passenger on a motorcycle, the proper helmet is one of the most important things to make sure you have. 

The helmet needs to fit properly. A child should not be wearing a helmet for adults. If the helmet is too large, it’s very likely that if you are in a crash, it will come off. 

The helmet needs to fit snugly, even though this means your child will outgrow it faster. The helmet should have full coverage as well as a chin-bar. If the helmet doesn’t have a face shield, your child should wear goggles. 

What About a Leather Jacket?

Wearing a leather jacket on a motorcycle isn’t to look the part. Leather jackets are important for protection. 

There are kids riding jackets available, and while they can be expensive, the protection they provide is likely worth it. Kids need at a minimum a tough jacket made of rugged material. 

Retention Solutions

Your child can’t be put in front of you to ride—that’s incredibly dangerous. If you are going to ride with a child as a passenger, they can fall off when they’re sitting behind you. A child can fall asleep on a longer ride, which increases the chances of falling off. A child can also be flung off following a maneuver for quick avoidance. 

If a child has small hands and their arms are short, it’s going to be tough for them to hold onto the rider. 

There are a lot of stories about motorcycles that didn’t crash, but children were still ejected from them. 

There are some aftermarket solutions that can help with this issue

For example, there are belts for riders that have passenger handholds. 

If you have a kid on the younger side, they might not be able to remember to hold on, so in this case, there are harnesses that go over a child’s waist and shoulders and between their legs so they can’t wiggle out. 

There are quick-release buckles on these harnesses that a child can’t release. Then, the harness attaches to a foam pad with grips like a handlebar. There’s a belt that attaches to the front of the pad and then goes around the waist of the rider, securing the child to them. 

Following the Rules of the Road

Whether you have a young passenger or not, following the rules of the road is critical for safety on a motorcycle. You need to make sure you comply not only with local laws but also with best practices for riding a motorcycle safely. 

Your child should have an understanding of basic safety skills before riding with you as well. 

Having a child as a passenger on a motorcycle inherently has more risks than putting a child in a car. If you do decide to do it, you need to take every available precaution to make it as safe as you can.