Riding a motorcycle can be an exhilarating and empowering experience. You’re able to enjoy the sunshine, easily navigate through traffic, and get to your destination in style. If you’re dropping your child off at school or running errands with them, you may even be tempted to let your kid ride on the back of your bike. Depending on your child’s age, doing so may be perfectly legal. However, there are some laws that apply to young riders that you’ll need to follow or you can face the possibility of steep fines or even jail time.
In this article, we discuss the age limitations for motorcycle riders in Texas, the laws that young riders need to follow, and tips for keeping your child safe on the back of your bike.
When Can a Child Legally Be On a Motorcycle in Texas?
The Texas Transportation Code states that “an operator may not carry another person on a motorcycle unless the other person is at least five years of age.” Driving with a passenger below the age of five is a misdemeanor that can carry a fine between $100 and $200. It’s worth noting that children younger than five years old may be seated in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
Child motorcycle passengers are required to wear a Department of Transportation (DOT)-approved motorcycle helmet anytime they get on a bike. Texas laws require all passengers under the age of 21 to wear an approved helmet. Helmets that pass DOT standards are rigorously tested for material quality and protectiveness, particularly penetration resistance.
If you want your child to ride behind you on your bike, it’s important to get them a properly-sized helmet. An adult helmet will be too large for their head and will not offer a secure fit. Your child’s helmet should fit their head comfortably and be secured by a chin strap. Eye protection or a visor is also required.
Motorcycles carrying a passenger of any age must have certain safety features designed to protect the passenger while the bike is in motion. Among other things, your motorcycle must have a footrest, handholds, and permanent passenger seat secured to the vehicle. Under no circumstances may your child sit in front of you on the motorcycle. Motorcycle accidents are capable of causing catastrophic injuries, and these laws are meant to keep your child safe on the road.
Preparing Your Child for a Motorcycle Ride
Even if your child technically meets all of the requirements of the state of Texas to ride on the back of a motorcycle, they may not be ready to jump on the back of your bike just yet. Consider whether your child is able to grab the handhold and reach the passenger footrests. If they are unable to properly brace themselves, they may be unable to steady themselves on sharp turns. Make sure that your child understands the importance of bracing for sharp turns, so they don’t fall off the bike and get hurt.
You may choose to have a belt that keeps your child strapped to you while on the bike. This can help maintain stability for both the rider and passenger and protect your child if they become drowsy or fall asleep during the trip. To help your child get used to the sensation of being on a motorcycle, practice riding at slow speeds down quiet streets initially. As your child becomes more comfortable, you can slowly increase your speed and begin taking sharper turns. It may be beneficial to have your child attend a motorcycle safety training session so they develop a greater understanding of how to stay safe on the bike.
Practicing Safe Riding With Your Child
The types of injuries sustained in a motorcycle crash tend to be worse than those suffered by the passengers of cars or trucks in an accident. Motorcyclists have very little protection around them in the event of a crash, which makes them particularly likely to suffer broken bones, concussions, spinal cord injuries, and road rash. As the operator of a motorcycle, it’s important to stay aware of your surroundings, keep an eye out for dangerous drivers or hazards, and practice defensive driving to reduce the risk of a crash as much as possible.
Make sure that your child wears protective gear when they get onto your bike. Long sleeves and pants can offer some protection from road rash if the motorcycle fails to make a turn and a properly-sized helmet can literally save the rider’s life. By taking steps to avoid accidents and prevent injuries, you can protect your child and have an enjoyable ride in the process.
Enjoy Your Next Family-Friendly Motorcycle Ride
We hope that this article helps you and your child stay safe on your next motorcycle ride, whether it’s a leisurely cruise around the neighborhood or a long drive to run errands. Always make sure to follow Texas’s laws regarding underage motorcycle riders and ensure that your child is adequately protected while on your bike. Doing so will prevent injuries and allow you to enjoy riding with your kid for years to come!