Riding with a passenger on a motorcycle is very different than transporting one in a motor vehicle. Having an additional person can impact the handling of the bike. And there may be special laws that apply. Consider the following safety tips before venturing out on your bike with a passenger.
Ensure the Motorcycle Is Equipped to Carry a Passenger
Some motorcycles aren’t equipped to carry passengers. If the seat isn’t large enough to fit an additional person, it’s not safe. In fact, a passenger seat is required by law in New York. It can either be one permanent, regular seat that is designed to carry two individuals. Or a separate seat that is attached at the side or rear of the bike operator.
It’s also important that passengers sit properly. One leg must be on each side of the motorcycle and the individual must be facing forward. Of course, this doesn’t apply if the passenger is in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle.
Another part with which the motorcycle must be equipped is a footrest for the passenger. Of course, the person must be tall enough to reach them.
Helmets are also a must. Both operators and passengers are required by law to wear a helmet. Eye protection is also a requirement.
Another way to ensure a motorcycle is equipped to carry a passenger is to read the owner’s manual. It may provide weight limitations and other information relevant to carrying a passenger, such as tire pressure and suspension.
Some states have age restrictions for passengers, so it’s important to look into those. In New York, there aren’t any.
Handling a Motorcycle When Carrying a Passenger
There are two factors that can impact a motorcycle’s operation when riding with a passenger. One is weight and the other is the passenger’s actions. Weight can affect braking, which may require more pressure and the operator may have to brake sooner than if no one else was on the bike. Taking a corner can also be trickier because of the extra weight.
Another issue is that when braking, if the passenger is heavier and uses the operator’s body to brace, this could actually push the person over the bars. So instead, the passenger should brace by putting his/her hands against the tank.
A passenger’s actions and movement can also impact handling. For instance, if making a sudden stop, prepare for the person’s body to move forward as well. This could cause his/her helmet to bump into yours. Of course, some actions—particularly those that are dangerous—can be avoided by preparing the passenger ahead of time.
Educate the Passenger before Riding
Don’t assume a passenger knows what to do while on the bike. Certain movements could cause the person to panic, such as when taking a turn. There might be a fear of falling off the bike. Explain ahead of time to hold onto your waist and to lean into the turn so his/her body is aligned with yours.
Advise the passenger to not make any sudden moves, such as twisting or turning in the seat. This could cause the operator to lose control of the bike. Also plan ahead of time signals to use if the passenger wants you to slow down or stop, such as a tap on the right shoulder.
This is important because as you are operating the motorcycle you may not be able to hear the passenger talking. It’s also a good idea to take advantage of stops at traffic lights to make sure the person is comfortable.
While we hope you never have to contact us, operators and passengers can seek legal help from Gacovino, Lake & Associates if a driver causes a motorcycle accident. Call us at 800-550-0000 or fill out our contact form to set up a free initial consultation with a lawyer.