As a Texas personal injury lawyer, I find it somewhat ridiculous that despite all the strict rules governing child seats and other safety rules concerning kids riding in cars, there are next to no laws for children riding pillion on motorcycles. This is particularly concerning given that bike riders are by far the most vulnerable motorists on the road, coupled with the high frequency of fatal motorcycle accidents in the Dallas-Fort Worth metroplex.
It might come as a surprise to you that only five US states actually specify a minimum age for motorcycle passengers. Texas House Bill 537, introduced in September 2009, prohibits children under the age of 5 from riding on a motorcycle. The minimum penalty for breaking this law is a $100 fine.
All passengers riding a motorcycle in Texas must be riding on either a permanent fixed seat, or else "another seat firmly attached to the motorcycle behind or two the side of the operator." Similarly, any passenger or motorcyclist aged 21 or under must wear a motorcycle helmet.
While there are some exceptions to the child passenger law, it is important that parents remember the unique risks to riding on a motorcycle and always put their child's safety first. Texas law does allow children younger than five to ride in a sidecar, or even as a regular pillion in emergency situations.
Washington and Louisiana also enforce state laws outlawing motorcycle passengers younger than five years old. Other states which have laws restricting children riding on motorcycles are Arkansas (minimum pillion age is eight) and Hawaii (minimum age of seven). As long as your child is aged nine or up, they can legally ride as a motorcycle passenger anywhere in the United States.
Mark Anderson has been practicing personal injury and wrongful death trial law in North Texas, and is experienced in both motorcycle crash and child injury cases. If you or a loved one has been hurt in a bike wreck which was not your fault, call the Anderson Law Firm for a no fee, no obligation consultation to find out what compensation you may be entitled to. Call toll free at 800-354-MARK (6275) or call locally at 817-294-1900.