It’s spring. The weather is great, winter is bowing out and the hum of motorcycles can be heard just about everywhere. Freedom on two wheels. Right? Wrong. There are rules you need to know, especially when children are sharing the ride.
Children and Motorcycles: Do the Two Mix or Not?
Children love two things: Emulating their parents and trying new things. Generally, having new experiences can be an excellent way to learn. On the other hand, this depends a great deal on what is being done. Painting a picture on a piece of paper is one thing, doing it on the living room wall is another. Parents lend guidance about that sort of thing.
Emulation keeps parents on their toes. Always. But, what happens when mom or dad has a new motorcycle? The longing in their child’s voice is palpable, as they say the famous words, “take me with you.” So, what do you do? Some parents are adamant that as long as they can put it off, their children will not ride on a motorcycle. Enough said. However, others want to give them a ride or even a day on the road. Parents need to know what the law says about this before they answer their please.
California Motorcycle Law: Children on Board
The basic question is how old does someone have to be before they can ride on a motorcycle? The answer is, while there are restrictions, they have nothing to do with age per se. According to the California Motorcycle Handbook, the motorcycle needs to be equipped with foot rests and the child’s feet must reach the foot rests. Some foot rests are equipped with a height adjustment. In addition, the bike must have a secured seat behind the driver for the child to sit on.
What About a Helmet?
No question about it, any one riding on a motorcycle in California needs a helmet to be legal. To be effective, the helmet must fit properly. Features like an anti-scratch face shield and a good ventilation system are important. Motorcycle helmets for children come with a wide range of features, so look for one that is certified by the Consumer Protection Safety Commission and provides maximum protection. Since some of them come with padding that can be removed as the child grows, it gives a parent a number of different choices. Lightweight helmets that are approved are available for kids almost anywhere.
Safety Tips to Keep Your Child Safe
- Dress the child in protective clothing that covers the legs and arms. This can provide some protection in the event of an accident and against sunburn.
- Provide the child with a CPSC approved helmet that fits well.
- Ensure the child is in a secured seat and can place both feet flat on the footrests.
- Instruct the child to keep his or her feet on the footrests at all times.
- Teach the child to keep his or her legs away from the muffler, since it can get hot.
- Tell the child to stay still and hold onto the rider in front at all times. Sudden movements in a heavier child could affect safety.
Safety Tips for Those Carrying a Child on a Motorcycle
- Take your time. Allow more space for passing, and keep in mind this is not the time to show off your driving skills.
- Carrying a passenger means you may want to allow more time for braking to avoid a sudden jolt, which could make a child fall.
- With heavier children as passengers, this can affect turning and the amount of time it takes to slow or speed up. Starting out slowly can let you gauge the difference in how your bike handles with a passenger onboard.
- Watching your speed and staying within the speed limit increases safety. Remember, you have a valuable passenger sitting behind you.
- Do not drink while biking. While this is a bad idea and illegal at any time, it endangers your child because judgment and reflexes can be adversely affected when you’re under the influence of alcohol.
The most important thing to remember is that you want to provide your child with a safe experience. Trying to cut corners or breaking the law could end up badly for both you and your child. Remember that motorists may fail to see a motorcycle until it is too late. They may be distracted or simply not obey the rules of the road such as using signals to turn, speeding or not giving another vehicle the right of way. This negligence is a major reason motorcycle crashes occur.
Motorcycle accident injuries can be costly, both physically and financially. Recovering damages is not the first thing you think of. Your mind immediately goes to the welfare of your passenger. Seeking medical care is essential. However, motorcycle accidents can result in medical bills and lost wages. California attorney David Azizi, a father of three children, understands how emotionally upsetting this can be. David is available to help you. Just call him at 800-991-5292, and set up a free case review. He’ll take the burden off you, deal with insurance companies and make sure the compensation you receive is just.