Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Are children safe as motorcycle passengers?

The matter of age requirements for motorcycle passengers is a unique one, in researching the issue, we were surprised to find there is no minimum age specification for motorcycle passengers in many states. Motorcyclists are left to use their judgment. Only five states specify minimum ages for motorcycle passengers, according to the American Motorcyclist Association: in Texas, Washington, and Louisiana passengers must be at least 5, in Arkansas a minimum 8 years of age, and in Hawaii 7 years.

Texas requires helmets for motorcycle passengers under the age of 21, and even those 21 or older must wear helmets unless they've been licensed to operate a motorcycle, or have completed a motorcycle-safety course under Chapter 662, or are covered by a health insurance plan providing at least $10,000 medical benefits. More on those laws can be found at www.bikersrights.com.

In truth, the decision on the age at which passengers safely can ride on motorcycles amounts to a common-sense judgment as well. Most wouldn't consider nine-year-olds to be overly risky. Even the states with mandates specify ages lower than that, so nine-year-olds are legal throughout the country.

The truth is, taking any child in any car at any time is probably the most dangerous thing you'll do with that child that day. We kind of know that — we certainly should know it — but try not to think about it. What's the alternative? Refusing to take the new grandchild to the grandparents' for the holidays because there's no guarantee of a safe trip? The children have no say or control in those instances, either. The inside of a minivan is safer than the back of a motorcycle, but it's not "safe."

We encourage bikers and parents to join the discussion in the comments below.


  1. My personal feeling on the matter (I have been riding for 35 years now - Dad bought me my first MC when I was 7 years old): Passengers of any kind are unsafe. Having a passenger on board completely changes the dynamics of the ride, and depending upon the passenger, the changes might be completely unexpected. If a kid wants to ride a MC, buy 'em their own and teach 'em how. If you want to take a passenger on your bike, get a sidecar.

  2. P.S. - riding on the back isn't much fun anyhow. The view is terrible, and there really isn't anything to do. Pretty boring.