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 age 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. In most other states, a child can ride on the back of a motorcycle as soon as they are big enough to reach the passenger footpegs.
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.
To enhance the safety of your young passenger, you might consider some accessories to help them hold on and stay in place on the motorcycle. Oxford Rider Grip is a waist belt worn by the motorcycle operator, which makes easy to grab handles available to the passenger. You might also consider installing a hard top case, which can act as a back rest.