Monday, January 23, 2012

Keeping Kids Alive On and Around Motorcycles

Motorcycle safety - and the safety of all motorists was the catalyst for initiating "It's Not A Race! Create™" Space in honor of James Davis - See "It's Not A Race! Create Space™."

In the spirit of building upon concern for the safety of cyclists and all who encounter riders on roadways of all kinds, Gina Williams, blogger for Motorcycle Accident, shares this guest blog. Please add your comments and questions to get a discussion going.

Children on Motorcycles

People of all ages love riding motorcycles.  However, motorcycles can be dangerous to anyone who rides them.  This is especially true for children, who have a tendency to do things that could put them at risk, do not know what safety precautions to take, and who, in the event of an accident, would not be able to get out from under a bike.  Here are steps you should take if you plan on taking a child on your motorcycle.

Children Need Protective Gear

Regardless of your state’s helmet laws, your child should wear a helmet at all times; it is perhaps the most important piece of equipment anyone on a motorcycle can wear.  His/her helmet should fit properly and be Department of Transportation (DOT) approved.  Additionally, just like protective gear is important for you to wear when you ride, it is also imperative that your child wear clothing that completely covers his/her arms and legs, gloves, and proper shoes; shoes should either be double knotted and laces stored or should not have laces, as loose laces could cause distraction or an accident.

Children Need to Ride on the Back of the Bike

It is much safer for a child to ride behind the motorcycle driver for several reasons.  First, children are more likely to fall off if riding in front of the driver in the event of an accident; there aren’t many places of a child to hold onto in front.  Second, a child in the front of the driver could serve as a distraction to the driver.  Third, a child in front of the driver could restrict a driver’s movements and, thus, the driver’s ability to avoid an accident; it could even be the cause of an accident.

Have a Conversation with the Child

Always be sure that your child is ready to ride.  Wanting to ride and being ready are two totally different things.   A child must reach a certain level of maturity in order to be able to listen to and apply instructions.  If you feel like your child is mature enough, here are a few things you need to go over with him/her before riding:

1.      Do not make sudden movements.
2.      Do not distract the driver.
3.      Where to hold onto and where not to hold onto.
4.      The importance of holding on at all times.
5.      Stay seated at all times.
6.      Stay facing forward at all times.
7.      Never remove your helmet.
8.      Which places on the bike get hot after it has been running.
Maturity, however, isn’t the only factor to take into consideration.  Height is also important.  When a child rides a motorcycle, they must be able to properly hold on.  It is IMPERATIVE that your child be able to reach the motorcycle’s pegs/floor boards to be truly secure on it.  Each motorcycle is different, but usually between the ages of 6 and 10, children are tall enough to do this.

Your Preparation

Ensure that your bike is child-ready before ever allowing your child to get on it.  Children need a good, secure, and accessible place to hold onto and to put their feet.
Also, don’t immediately start taking long trips when your child is new to riding on a motorcycle.  Slowly increase the length of trips.  This will allow you and your child to become more comfortable; it will also allow your child to become familiar with riding, the equipment, and safety procedures.

Know What to Expect

Children have shorter attention spans, move more, and talk more than adult passengers; they are also more at risk if they fall asleep on the bike, which many of us do as passengers.  You need to be more aware than you normally would with a child passenger.  If you find that having your child on your bike with you is too much of a distraction, then your child might not be ready to be a passenger.

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