The enjoyment of riding a motorcycle should not be limited to adults, with proper motorcycle safety available for children. Cruiser reports a child can travel as the passenger on a motorcycle when they feel confident to do so and are equipped with the correct safety gear. Sharing their love for the open road is something parents want to do with their children and something Michael Bilokonsky believes can be done safely.
Motorcycle Safety for Kids
The motorcycle has become a part of the lives of millions of families across the U.S. However, the safety of children riding with their families has been an underserved area of concern for many safety groups. Michael Bilokonsky explains the safety of child passengers should be the highest priority. Common mistakes include:
- Seating a child in front of the rider
- Ill-fitting helmets
- Not using safety equipment
The statistics surrounding motorcyclists’ safety and their passengers are startling, with around 5,000 riders killed each year. Statistics focus on riders and not passengers, with 60 percent of injured passengers under the legal licensing age. The risk of a road accident needs to be at the top of the list of concerns for a rider when traveling with a child, regardless of age.
Age is Important
The World Health Organization reports that a child’s safety under one’s age is difficult to guarantee. Bilokonsky agrees with the WHO that laws should be in place to outlaw children under one riding as a passenger. In the U.S., the riding age for a passenger is a matter of state law, with Georgia among those banning passengers under one year. Across the planet, the riding age varies, with several nations not limiting passenger age. Several countries have introduced specific requirements, such as the United Kingdom stating children’s feet must reach the motorcycle footpegs.
An Approved Helmet
Motorcycle riding is a family activity for many riders and requires the use of approved safety equipment. The small size of a child’s head can prove problematic for some riders and requires several helmets throughout childhood. Bilokonsky warns against the use of a helmet that is too large for a child to wear comfortably. An ill-fitting helmet will not provide the correct levels of safety when a fall occurs. The use of an approved helmet that fits correctly adds a layer of confidence for the child and parents when setting out on a ride.
Parents tend to focus on protecting the head of their child, with experienced riders understanding the importance of protective clothing. The use of protective clothing, such as leather jackets and boots, is a must for keeping children safe when riding as a passenger. Protecting the hands of a passenger is important, with leather gloves available from most major manufacturers.
Briefing Before Riding
Before setting out on any ride, every passenger needs to run through the safety requirements. The motorcycle rider needs to make their passenger aware of safety requirements before they set out on a ride. Safety is an essential factor that requires a short briefing before every ride begins. Among the subjects to be discussed are:
- Reminding children to hold on
- Keeping feet on pegs
- Avoid the exhaust
Avoiding Falling Off
The pre-ride briefing for a child needs to discuss the dangers of falling off the bike. Motorcyclist Online explains there are several harnesses available for children to limit the possibility of falling off. Several harnesses are available to secure the child to the rider. The majority of harnesses include hand grips on the back and chest of the rider for added safety.
Helmets are available with Department of Transport certification. Choosing a helmet tested to the requirements of the DOT is required to keep every child safe. A snug fit is vital because the helmet is in place to keep the child safe from the damage caused by hitting their head on a hard road surface. Michael Bilokonsky explains a commonly seen problem is a large helmet falling off and leaving the child’s head exposed in a wreck. The cost of replacing helmets can be high, but the safety provided should override all cost issues.
Never Force Kids to Ride
The choice of riding as a passenger needs to be made by the child. Michael Bilokonsky believes the safety of children should overcome all other concerns. A child needs to be aware of the problems that can be caused when riding a motorcycle. Bilokonsky does not want children to be scared off riding as a passenger but feels the need to feel confident in the motorcycle operator. The desire to share the joy of the open road with a child is strong, with a scared child never being forced to join their parents on a ride.
Motorcycle riding for kids has been made safer with the move towards better equipment from recognized manufacturers. The most important aspect of riding is the confidence of a rider and their passenger, which makes all the difference in keeping both safe, according to Michael Bilokonsky.