Riding Your Motorcycle with a Child

Tips for introducing your kids to the thrill of the ride

If you have a child and a motorcycle, you’ve probably heard this question a hundred times (and if you haven’t heard it yet, you will soon):

“Can I have a ride?”

Riding-with-child-safety-tipsTaking a child for a ride on a motorcycle will be very exciting for them, and can be a great way to bond with your child (or niece or nephew). But if you don’t think it through, your joyride could end very badly.

In my two decades plus as a NJ motorcycle accident attorney, I have seen people do some very dumb things on their motorcycles, but endangering a child out of ignorance or thoughtlessness is not acceptable.

The most common disaster-waiting-to-happen

One of the most common scenes when it comes to kids and motorcycles looks something like this: an adult biker with a small kid sitting in front of him, straddling the gas tank in an oversized helmet.

There are a lot of issues with the picture I’m painting here:

  • The child’s position means that he or she interferes with the rider’s control of the bike.
  • If there is a sudden and unexpected stop, how will the rider keep the both young passenger and himself on the bike?
  • If the rider has to grab the child to keep them on the bike, how will they stay in control of the motorcycle?
  • If the kid falls off the bike, will the giant helmet actually do him or her any good? An ill fitting helmet can simply come off during an accident, or twist and cause an additional neck injury.

Heading off the Disaster of an Injured Child

As a motorcycle injury attorney who rides, I understand how exciting it can be to introduce your children to the thrill of the road –heck, I experienced that joy myself. We just need to remember not to toss common sense out the window in all our excitement.

A few ways to prevent the issues I laid out above, which don’t require much more than a base level of common sense:  

  • Review my blog post on being a good passenger. Many of these tips will apply to kids as well as adults.
  • There is no minimum age or specific height requirement for passengers in New Jersey or Pennsyvlania; however,
  • If your child is not tall enough to reach the passenger footpegs (riding behind you), they are not old enough to be on the bike. Period. If the only way for them to ride with you is to compromise your control of the bike, putting both of you in danger, it just isn’t worth the risk.
  • As far as helmets go, passengers younger than 21 are required to wear a helmet, although as I mentioned above, if it is improperly sized, it can actually be more dangerous than not wearing one at all. Allstate has a good helmet fitting guide at their blog, and all of those tips should apply to fitting your child’s helmet as well as an adult helmet.
  • Don’t scrimp when it comes to your kids’ helmet. Most of the major helmet manufacturers put out stylish – dare I say “cool looking” – helmets in kid’s sizes, so finding something for your children should not be a huge problem.
  • Other protective gear is also just as important for kids as for you, so make sure they are wearing good heavy gloves, sturdy jeans, and closed-toed, heavy shoes (hiking boots are a good choice). A heavy jacket is a good addition as well.

Remember, you’re the responsible adult, and it’s your job (whether you like it or not) to be a good role model for responsible riding.

If you teach your children to respect the bike and the road when they are young, you can expect them to have a long, safe and rewarding relationship with motorcycles throughout their lives.

If you have more questions about introducing your family to the joy of riding a motorcycle safely, or if you’ve been involved in a motorcycle accident, contact motorcycle accident attorney Lee D. Gaber, Esq. at 1-888-292-5352 (888-cycle-law).

New Jersey and Pennsylvania consultations are free.