A Motorcyclist’s Life: Riding With Young Passengers

Oct 12, 2012 View Comments by

A lot of motorcyclists like to share the thrill of riding with family members and friends. Some even enjoy introducing their kids to riding at a very young age. However, when it comes to young passengers and motorcycles, a lot of riders don’t know if there are age restrictions or special precautions they must take before allowing a child to go on a ride. Surprisingly, most states don’t have age restrictions regarding child passengers on motorcycles.

In fact, only five states have laws pertaining to young riders:

  • Arkansas: Prohibits passengers under age 8.
  • Hawaii: Prohibits passengers under age 7.
  • Louisiana: Prohibits passengers under age 5. Additionally, a child must be properly seated and wear a helmet.
  • Texas: Minimum age for passengers is 5 years old, unless seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
  • Washington: Prohibits passengers under age 5.

However, if you are carrying a passenger, regardless of age, all 50 states require that motorcycles be equipped with a passenger seat and foot pegs.

If you do decide to allow a child to ride with you, follow these safety tips:

  • Wear personal protective gear, including a helmet, at all times. In most states, children under the age of 18 must wear a helmet when on a motorcycle.
  • Children should hold the operator’s waist or hips.
  • The passenger should keep both feet on footrests at all times, including while stopped.
  • Keep hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.
  • When making a turn, have the child look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the turn.
  • Avoid turning around or making sudden moves that might startle the child.

The operator of the motorcycle also needs to take into account the extra weight of a passenger. Additional weight can affect acceleration, braking, and turning.

Make sure you understand your state’s motorcycle insurance and helmet laws before allowing a passenger on your bike, as they can determine your legal rights in the event of a collision. Keep in mind that many states have laws for those with motorcycle permits. In Pennsylvania and Florida, for example, permit holders can’t carry any passengers other than a licensed instructor. For more information on motorcycle safety, visit EdgarSnyder.com.

Tags: , , Categories: Touring & Safety Tips

About the author

Attorney Michael H. Rosenzweig has over 20 years of experience helping bikers injured in motorcycle accidents. He is a partner and litigation manager at Edgar Snyder & Associates. The Edgar Snyder & Associates Harley-Davidson makes appearances at bike nights and rallies throughout the riding season.