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Safe Motorcycle Riding With a Child Passenger in New York

Data from the CDC shows that motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle crashes, are one of the major causes of the death of children in the US. Despite better roadway management and the latest vehicle crash avoidance systems, motorcycle accidents continue to cause a large number of injuries and fatalities every year.

safe motorcycle child

Data from the CDC shows that motor vehicle accidents, including motorcycle crashes, are one of the major causes of the death of children in the US. Despite better roadway management and the latest vehicle crash avoidance systems, motorcycle accidents continue to cause a large number of injuries and fatalities every year.

Motorcycle accidents in New York are on the rise and according to most experts, it is risky to ride with children on motorcycles. In the event of a collision, children often suffer fatal or severe traumatic injuries to the brain and spinal cord. Many of these injuries may end up causing permanent disability or brain damage to the child.

New York State Laws for Child Passengers on a Motorcycle

Like many other states, New York has no rule prohibiting child passengers from riding with an adult on a motorcycle. However, the rules do require that child passengers must be able to place their feet on the footrests and they should be wearing a helmet when traveling with an adult motorcyclist.

Although riding a motorcycle with a child passenger is legally permitted in New York, it is important to understand the risks of such travel. When getting into such situations, the onus is on the adult motorcyclist to follow the basic safety measures that ensure the child passenger is protected from danger during the ride.

When is it Safe to Ride with a Child Passenger in NYC?

Very young children are likely to make sudden movements that may affect the operation of the motorcycle or cause the adult rider to panic and lost control of the bike. They are also likely to fall asleep and fall off the bike.

A good rule to follow is to ride only with those child passengers whose feet can connect with the motorcycle’s footrests. Before beginning the ride, make sure you remind the child to keep their feet firmly on the footrests at all times.

Child passengers must also be old enough to hold on to either the motorcycle’s handholds or to the adult motorcyclist. They must be capable of understanding the need to keep a firm hold throughout the ride.

How to Ride a Motorcycle Safely with a Child Passenger?

The safety of the child passenger is the responsibility of the adult who is riding the motorcycle. Here are a few tips to make sure the child is protected while riding with you:

  • Make sure that the motorcycle is fitted with a passenger seat that is of the right size for the child passenger. This is critical to make sure that the child does not feel uncomfortable and fidget around as that can distract the attention of the adult motorcycle rider.
  • Fit the child passenger with a helmet that is a snug fit. Loose-fitting helmets can fly off in the event of a collision, or they may themselves be responsible for an injury.
  • Helmets come in different types such as half-face, full face, and open face. Always choose a full-face helmet for child passengers and make sure to pick a model that comes with a protective bar for the jaw and chin.
  • Dress the child appropriately for the ride. On a motorcycle, there is no protection from the elements unlike in a car, so ensure the child passenger wears a thick leather or denim jacket, preferably with zipped cuffs. Have them wear heavy jeans to cover and protect the legs and use sturdy boots that stretch beyond the ankles to keep the feet protected. Avoid shoes with shoelaces that may get entangled in the motorcycle chain and lead to an accident.
  • Get the motorcycle child passenger to wear leather gloves that can protect the hands.

Things to Consider when Buying a Helmet for a Child Passenger

Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration shows that helmets have a 37% efficacy when it comes to preventing death in an accident. They are also found to have an effectiveness of 67% in averting injuries to the head. This is crucial because a head injury is highly likely to cause traumatic brain injuries in a motorcycle accident.

A helmet provides a cushioning effect that prevents impact to the skull and avoids traumatic injuries that may result in lifelong disability. Here are a few tips on what factors you need to consider when buying a helmet for a child passenger on a motorcycle:

Does it meet helmet standards?

When you purchase a helmet, make sure it meets the standards for helmets specified by the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Economic Commission for Europe (ECE). The Snell Memorial Foundation is a non-profit private organization that provides voluntary certification for helmets that meet standards sometimes considered more stringent than the governmental ones.

Is it the right fit?

It’s crucial that children wear a helmet that fits snugly to provide the necessary protection from head injuries. Some parents choose a larger sized helmet because the child’s head will grow bigger with time and outgrow a well-fitting helmet. This can prove to be shortsighted because a child wearing a large-sized helmet is more likely to suffer an injury in case of a crash.

Does it have internal padding?

Internal padding gives the cushioning effect to avoid a head injury. In the event of a motorcycle crash, the internal padding will reduce the impact of the child’s head with both the hard exterior of the helmet as well as any exterior surface with which the head may come into forceful contact.

Does it provide sufficient facial coverage?

Your child may want to use a half-face or modular or open face helmet because it looks cool. A full-face helmet may feel restrictive to a child. However, it is only full-face helmets that provide the necessary protection to child passengers and you must insist they wear only such helmets if they wish to ride with you.

Does it have a chin bar?

The chin and jaw regions are quite delicate and equally prone to injuries in a motorcycle accident. Make sure the helmet you buy for your child passenger has a bar in place to provide the necessary protection to their jaw and chin in the event of a motorcycle accident.

How to Avoid a Child Passenger Falling off the Motorcycle?

Young children may easily fall off a moving motorcycle without the adult rider noticing it. The rhythmic motion of the vehicle and the effect of the wind can lull even an older child to sleep, causing them to slump in the seat and either fall or slip off the motorcycle.

These events are also more likely to occur if the motorcycle rider applies the brakes suddenly, or performs a swerving maneuver, or accidentally skids. Very young children have small hands that may not be able to hold on to the adult rider firm enough to stay in place on the bike. Here are a few tips to make sure child passengers stay firmly in place when riding with you.

  • Wear a belt with handholds to which the child can hold on. Or attach loops to your jacket belt or pants that can serve as handholds.
  • Use a harness that goes around the child’s waist, then over the shoulders and between their legs which you can then fasten to a belt around your waist. This strapping of the child into the harness is a simple way to ensure the child stays secure on the bike and attached to you.
  • When riding with very small children, place a child’s seat into the passenger saddle section of the motorcycle so that the sides of the seat will prevent the child from sliding off when you brake or make a sharp turn. Some seats come with foot supports for better stability, and these can be a good choice for younger children.
  • If you plan to ride with a child, ensure they understand that they must not move when sitting on the motorcycle. Help them understand the importance of holding on to you at all times, and let you know if they feel they are about to fall or slip off the bike at any time.

Get in Touch with an Experienced Motorcycle Accident Lawyer in New York

As a responsible motorcyclist, you must take all precautions necessary when riding with a child passenger. Despite whatever the law says, as a parent, you are the best judge of when your child is ready to ride with you. Sometimes, despite taking all precautions to keep your child safe when riding with you, it is quite likely that you may be involved in a motorcycle accident due to the negligence of other motorists on the road.

If you have been in a motorcycle accident where a child passenger riding with you has been injured, get in touch with our experienced and competent motorcycle accident attorneys in NYC at Rosenberg, Minc, Falkoff & Wolff, LLP at 212-344-1000 to schedule a free consultation.

Our seasoned motorcycle accident lawyers have worked with several parents who have had child passengers injured in a motorcycle accident in NYC. We can help you navigate the complex legal process of claiming and receiving maximum compensation for all the economic and non-economic losses you suffered due to the accident.

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