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Children Riding on Motorcycles

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"I have some concerns of my step-son riding a motorcycle with his mother. I need to know the rules and regulations of a 4 and 8 year old riding on a motorcycle with their mother (non-custodial)parent. Please e-mail me back with some information. Your time is greatly appreciated. E-mail me back if you need further information."
Thanks, Regina

Regina,
Illinois traffic laws currently do not prohibit children from riding on a motorcycle with adults. Motorcycles are specifically exempted by both the Seat Belt and Child Passenger Safety laws. The only requirements by law are:
* That all drivers and passengers wear protective glasses or a shield,
* That the motorcycle must have a seat designed for a passenger and be otherwise equipped (usually footpegs)
* That the driver and passenger must ride while sitting astride the seat (one leg on each side of the bike) not side-saddle.

There is no helmet law in Illinois currently, even for children. I certainly understand your safety concerns for your step-son. As the custodial parents, a recourse for you may be to speak with the child's mother and either ask her not to ride the child on the motorcycle, or provide a helmet to offer some degree of protection when they do ride.

Thanks for the opportunity to address your questions. While the Illinois State Police is a strong advocate of child passenger safety, we must work within the laws as they are currently written.

Randy

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22 Comments

Hi Randy,
My son just turned 3 years of age. I recently learned that his grandfather, (his father's father,) occassionally takes him for a spin on his motorcycle despite my firm request against this. Since there is no helmet law in Illinois, nor laws against youth above 1 year riding motorcycles, I cannot take legal action against him for these issues. However, is there any other way I can take legal action?
Thank you for your time!
Melissa

Melissa,
I completely agree with you that your 3 year old's grandfather should obey your wishes as the child's parent. As I mentioned above however, he is probably not breaking any specific law. The only charge that comes to mind is "Child Endangerment" --720 ILCS 5/12-21.6 This is a misdemeanor except upon a second or subsequent violation. Realistically, you would have to specifically detail how he was "willfully causing or permitting the life or health of a child under age 18 to be endangered or to willfully cause or permit a child to be placed in circumstances that endanger the child's life or health."
It would be best, obviously, if you can get him to voluntarily comply with your wishes. You would have to consult with the State's Attorney in your area on placing any charges against him. They may not take the act of riding the child on a motorcycle by itself as enough to warrant this charge. Some specific incident showing that the child was in danger may have to be cited, if applicable. Hope that information is helpful. -Randy

I have shared custody with my ex-husband who owns a motorcycle and who flat out refuses to stop riding my child around on the back of his bike. There are no laws in effect to protect her or to stop him. She wears my old helmet which was too big for me and slides right off. Meanwhile I can be given a ticket for not having her in the back seat, with a seat belt locked, in a booster chair. Huh? This issue needs action. I am trying to do something about it.

Please help. Let's start a national campaign and get a law on the books that prevents normally intelligent people from endangering children.

Contact my email at valariepainter@yahoo.com

From M/Sgt. Ness-
Valarie, good luck with your efforts. Some states do have helmet laws or motorcycle rules for children. It is definitely an area that needs to be looked at.
Randy

Dear M/Sgt. Ness --

Thank you very much for the information on your website! This has been very helpful with my latest eco-project, the Twike (http://www.uiuc.edu/goto/twike).

I sympathize with the problems of the parents in the above postings, and while I completely agree that the motorcycle laws regarding helmets and children in Illinois are insane, in my case it works to my advantage (also insane, you can't get an organ donor motorcycle license plate, which when I found that out, I thought, 'Hey, that's silly -- motorcycle riders are the largest pool of potential organ donors')

The Twike is a completely enclosed electric three-wheeled vehicle (all season), which in Illinois registers as a motorcycle (like the Harley's & Goldwings where they chop off the rear wheel and replace it with two -- Trike bodystyle). I use it as an in-town vehicle only (I've had it up to 57mph -- once, but most days it goes 35-45mph tops), to drop-off/pickup the kiddos (6yr-old & 1yr-old) at school/daycare prior to going to work on campus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (where it costs employees $400 for a single parking spot for a car, but only $34 for a permit to park anywhere there's a 'motorcycle parking permitted' sign). On the eco-side, it's zero emissions and it gets an estimated gas-equivalent of 250-600 miles per gallon.

Due to its low center of gravity and the majority of the wieght being over the rear axle, tt is quite stable and easily seen (it rather sticks out) due to its broad profile when compared to a 2-wheeled bike (either moto or bicycle)... not to mention its uniqueness...

I recently modified the boot area (still within the passenger compartment) to securely mount a carseat base for the 1-year-old directly to the frame of the vehicle with screws and shock/bungie cord. While a carseat is not required (as it is a motorcycle), I find it safer to keep her contained in this fashion rather than the typical 'seatbelt it in' which I've never found works very solidly with carriers designed to click into bases -- it always seems quite sloppy to me -- better than nothing, but sloppy.

I will be adding your information to the laminated abridged version of the Illinois Vehicle code that I keep in the Twike that contains the laws on the books that apply to the Twike 'just in case' -- obviously it is far easier to document/show an existing law, than to show/prove 'There's nothing on the books in Illinois regarding children on motorcycles' so your comments will aid in that.

Once again, thanks for your insight, and I'd appreciate any comments/suggestions you have!

Has anyone found relief for "child motorcycle riding"? I am facing a similiar situation with my child (being ridden without my consent) and would like to know how to proceed; I live in Florida
Thanks,
you can e-mail me at frayner@aol.com

I am having the same problem. My ex wants my daughter to ride on the back of his motorcycle as soon as she's able to reach the pegs. His motorcycle riding girlfriend and him both boast about starting her undersized daughter when she was only five. I just don't understand why and how these kids are required to ride in a car seat but the law doesn't prohibit even smalll children from riding on the back of a motorcycle. What if she falls asleep or they get hit? Her little body will not stand a chance. I can just see her falling off and then getting run over. What can I do? I'm going to start petitioning for a change in law but I hope it doesn't take my daughter getting killed to get it done.

I feel for all the above who are fighting with various members of their children's lives who go against the wishes of the parents. But as a motorcycle enthusiast, I'm "chomping at the bit" to be able to take my almost 4 year old son for a ride. During my research into the passenger laws that govern New York State (PROPER FITTING, DOT HELMETS ARE REQUIRED and would still be worn by all memebers of my household even if they weren't!!), I came across the Child Riding Belt. Its quite the clever invention. IT IS NOT A SAFETY BELT and the child is never secured to the motorcycle. Rather the belts loop around the child, provides neck support, has hand grips and secures to the driver. The purpose is to keep the child from falling off the motorcycle and allows the driver to focus more on the road and its conditions instead of the passenger.

If there is no recourse for getting the offender to stop, maybe this or another device similar to it called the Little Riders Belt(as the CRB is on the pricier side)would be an "okay" compromise.

Good luck to all. But please remember that not all motorcyclists are knuckleheads who put their children at risk without a lot of thought and consideration. I've weighed all the risks involved and based on my riding style (back country roads- think Sunday driver)I believe that this is an acceptable risk.

I purchased a child riding belt about 1 year ago for my 4 yrs. My wife was skeptical at first until I showed her how it works. Now she loves the product and feels better when I take my child for a ride. I have since started a business as a distributor for the company that makes the product. Here is my web site and you can read and see pictures on how it works. Please take a look.
www.t-jridingbelts.net

Some of you have to get over it. Take a look at China, Vietnam, any asian country. Look at their roads and traffic patterns. Now that is nuts. Motorcycles are growing in popularity due to fuel prices. My 11 yr old rides with me anywhere. Her first ride was when she was 6 with my Uncle on a large touring Harley around town at 30 mph. My 3 yr old wants to go but I wont take her because she is too small. They make leathers, protective gear and helmets for kids.

Motorcycles aren't dangerous per se..... Cars who pull out with out looking are the ones at fault. Start seeing motorcycles!!!!. You are going to see more of them every year this economy stays in the toilet. So get used to it.

I drive 250 miles every week to work and back. Taking any of my 2 bikes saves me money I despirately need as I pay $125 in support to the 3 yr olds mom, but I only get $55 a month from the 11 yr olds mom if and when she decides to pay it. So to make ends meet I have to ride as often as I can because one gets 42mpg the other about 65.

NOW TO AGREE ON SOMETHING....if your ex is taking the kid to bars, going on poker runs, or driving like an idiot, I see your point.
and helmets should be a must!

I am having a very similar problem and came directly to the computer for support in this matter. My x-husband insists on riding our 8-year-old on his motorcycle. He came home this evening from Redondo Beach (to Long Beach) at 11:30 pm and claims he has done nothing wrong. He also claims that motorcycles are "just as safe as cars." That is completely false!! I realize as long as my son has a helmet on that nothing is illegal, but really - isn't it immoral to risk the life of your own child for your own convenience?
Please support my worries with an email. Am I as crazy as he claims or are motorcycles dangerous?

Patricia
Long Beach, CA

I am in the same situation as all the other parents trying to protect their children. My ex also insists in taking my 8 year old daughter on the back in his motorcycle. My greatest fear is that my daughter won't be able to hold on tight enough. Also deathly afraid of another driver not seeing them. This is rediculous that there is no law against this! My ex also drinks alcohol and then rides her around to various restaurants/bars where he continues to drink beer. The only proof I have though is my daughters word and the fact that he's an alcoholic. I live in the state of Texas. If anyone has any suggestions please let me know as soon as possible. Everytime he has her I am completely beside myself with fear and frustration. He lost his job, which means he lost his demo car, so that is his excuse too. My daughter loves it, of course, so there is no convincing her not to do it. I bought her a cell phone and asked her to call me if he drinks any alcohol and I will come get her. I've offered my dads car to my ex while he has Emma, but he won't take it. His response is that I just have to deal with it an ge could care less what I think.

Please let me know what I can do.
ErinLhilton@gmail.com

I hear all the same concerns in all of you as I have them too. But My son just turned 11, and I know in NYS that ALL childeren riding in cars have to wear seat belts. And I need to know is it legal for him to ride on the back of a motorcycle? If he has to wear a seat belt in a car and has to ride in the back of a car beause of the air bags. Then that means he cant ride on the back of a motorcycle?! RIGHT?!?!?
My ex feels that he is a "safe rider" yet he's been in a "few" car wrecks and has had 2 DWI'S!
If anyone could help me out with this info, please let me know
lisadhartig@yahoo.com

i love motorcycles and my love for them has spread to my 5 year old, she wants to go on rides all the time. im always concerned of her safety, before her first ride i was going over all the ways i could keep her safe. the first thing i did was bought a 52 inch belt to go around mine and her waist and then ordered a helmet. out first ride thought i didn't want us to have a helmet in case she got scared i wanted to be able to talk to me and hear me easier, so we took a short cruise on our, pretty much no traffic, country road. she did get a little frightened for a moment but then loved it and the belt made me know she was always right there snug up against me. i do think there should be a helmet law for kids but i definitely don't think they should ban them from riding with responsible/experienced riders. i would say maybe a 5 year motorcycle license requirement, next to no at fault accidents on their record, and the child being at least 4 to 5, would make me feel safe when seeing a child on the back of a bike. i love riding with my daughter, riding is my hobby, 1 of my favorite things to do, and now its becoming one of my daughters favorite thing to do too. i want to teach her how to ride on a dirt bike soon. i learned when i was 10 and have been happily riding on the dirt for 8 years and street for 7 years.

START SEEING MOTORCYCLES! WE'RE HERE TO STAY!

I know some states have begun the change the laws and hopefully more and more will see that motorcyclists need to have regulations when it comes to their children. I have nothing against grown men and women enjoying their motorcycles - they accept and understand the risks and statistics. The truth is that motorcyclists that have accidents have almost NO chance of walking away without a reasonably serious injury. And, many of these accidents are not their fault which means they can't prevent them if they have their child on the back. A seat belt won't help a direct collision with the cars that are not looking for motorcyclists. What will happen then, when the child is strapped to 100+ pounds of person and hitting the pavement? That needs to be a consequence thought through when putting a small child on a motorcycle. Otherwise, what's the harm in waiting?

I think I can understand all of the above comments and concerns as I am also a parent of two children (now 9 & 11) and I believe our children are our most valuable asset and we want to keep them as safe as possible.

That being said, there are many dangers in the world today for our children. They could get hurt in many ways, motorcycle accidents, car accidents (yes even with seat belts and air bags - if hit by a semi tractor trailer, train or bus for example), ATV, Snowmobile, Horseback riding, snow boarding, surfing, sking or even just playing various sports (i.e. football, hockey, baseball, gymnastics etc.).

So, it all comes down to comfort levels in safety vs the "what ifs". What is your comfort level in any particular action (such as motorcycling)?

I would suggest to educate yourself as to what options, choices etc. that you have for the particular sport of interest (i.e. motorcycling). Then from having gathered that information, make a decision that you can feel comfortable with and "go with it".

For example, and just for the record, I am only providing the information, I am not doing any sort of "high pressure sales pitch" here, but I would like to offer information about a Child Riding Harness that I designed for taking children for rides on recreational vehicles such as motorcycles.

The product is called the "BackRider Belt" and it's a 5 point riding harness that attaches you to the child riding passenger. It is recommended for children between the ages of 2 up to 10 or 11 (depending on the child's size & weight for their age) or not to exceed a maximum of 100 lbs.

It is designed to help keep the child in an upright position while riding in the event they drift off to sleep (which they tend to do in most cases after about 10 or 15 minutes of riding) that enables the driver to pull over safely and take a break (or continue on if the driver feels comforatale enough - their choice).

The BackRider Belt helps to keep the child safely upright and on the seat in the event that the motorcycle bounces over an object on the road or runs in a pot hole in the road (which there seems to be many of in some areas of the world). Also if the driver has to make an emergency stop they will be busy pulling in the clutch and front brake (as well as their back break too...) and holding on tight to the handle bars, then the child passenger in this harness will also be safe with the rider and not bouncing or sliding off (becuase he/she couldn't see the emergency and wasn't prepared for the sudden stop and could therefore go "flying off the bike" if they weren't strapped in to the BackRider Belt to the rider).

The BackRider belt is not a "Safety Device" and is not sold as such, but it will give some extra "Piece of Mind" to the Rider that they know the child won't fall off accidentally and in the case of a fall where both rider and passenger fall, then there will most like be injuries (as there would be in any fall off a motorcycle - with or without any such harness). How much or severe of injuries may not be as bad as if in the case if the lighter child (who isn't wearing a riding harness) were to be "thrown fast and clear" of you the rider and the bike only to hit an object and/or slide on the road at the same rate of speed in which the rider was travelling in. But, on the other hand if the child were to be strapped to the rider then he/she would be slowed down considerably due to the heavier weight of the adult rider and they both would stay together until stopped. The example I would use here would be if the child was not strapped to the rider and the rider had to "Lock Up" (sudden stop with both his/her hands on the bars trying desparately to control the motorcycle), then it is highly likely that the child would go "Flying" off the motorcycle especially if he/she didn't see the emergency that caused their rider to "Lock Up" and as a result wasn't able to "Hang on" (even an older child who isn't paying attention is at risk of this type of situation). In this case the rider would not be able to do anything but watch their child passenger fly by helplessly.

So... there are risks and there are sometimes related safety choices that can be made to lessen those risks, but ultimately the choice is up to you.

Oh, and I would also like to mention that I have taken the time & expense to have our BackRider Belt fully tested (according to actual tests done on Baby Car Seat products) by a Professional Product Evaluation Engineering firm in the United States and it far surpassed all the tests that were conducted!

All I'm saying is to educate yourself enough to make an informed decision and "Ride Safe"!

If anyone would like more information about the BackRider Belt, I'd be happy to address any questions you may have. You are also welcome to visit our webpage at: www.RiderzRagz.com to see more about the product and the various testimonials with this regard etc.

Thanks for everyone's time.

Have fun & ride safe.

I have read several posts and most of them start out “My ex-spouse” wants to put our child on their motorcycle. Well, I have the same story. However I do know that if I were still married to my husband, our child would not be riding on a motorcycle. In fact my ex never rode or owned a street motorcycle while we were married. Having said that, we have 50/50 legal custody and since there is no meeting of the minds on this matter and that his motorcycle riding is only recreational he should not be able to take our six year old on his bike. This is a new extra curricular activity for him and he has been riding a street motorcycle for under a year. He is doing this just to spite me more then he wants to ride with our daughter. So I will have to go to court in hopes that a judge will side with me.

I started a page on Facebook for this issue. I have already contacted the govenors office and I am going to do whatever it takes to get a law passed for this. My 4 1/2 year old daughter goes on her dad's bike, and I get so scared.... I don't trust the other drivers!!!

Please support me and my page!

Thank you!

I can only imagine what a mothers instincts/feelings are on their children riding motorcycles are. However trying to change laws and waste the governments time because YOUR CHOSEN expartner/partner does something you dont agree with, based on your fear/feelings, makes me a bit disgusted. You made your choice as to who the father would be!! Please dont attempt to change the rest of the country/states laws for such an asinine reason.

For the guy who drinks and rides his kids around..there is a law against that! I personally wouldnt ride with a kid younger then 11-12 on the back but this is America and I should have the right to make that choice, not a bunch of fearsome women. Gotta say after traveling/living in several countries around the world...DONT marry an American woman...just dont! Yes im from here!

Ben if you don't think having a 2, 3, or even 7 or 8 year old on a street bike is unsafe you have lost your mind. Any child not reaching a certain height should be banned from riding just like a roller coaster. Even in a car a child has to be in a safety seat until they are tall enough. That being said the way you think why stop 2 year olds from getting on a roller coaster and hey why have car seats... this is America right? America takes all these precautions for cars and as you know bikes don't have carseats or seatbelts. My kids (6 and 8) step dad just got a motorcycle for the first time and is already telling my kids that hes going to take them on a ride. If the law allows him to do it I promise you I'm going to hurt this guy. Now this coming from a fearsome father you may want to rethink your views. By the way I'm married to an American woman and to me there is nothing better. Goes to show how much your asinine uneducated comments mean to anyone.

It's a matter of parental responsibility. I've ridden sport bikes my whole life, and while I don't have kids yet, I will feel as comfortable with them on a bike with me as in a car. That's the problem with trying to pass laws like these...it's rediculous to impose legislation on parents who are safe and experienced riders, who just want to share the experience with their kids.

That being said, I'm all for helmet laws, for any age, but especially for young riders. At the very least, show some responsibility and be safe with your kids, so that people don't overreact and try to get rediculous laws passed.

I'm dedicated to the sport, hobby, and lifestyle of sport bikes. The majority of accidents riders are involved in is not the rider's fault. It's the carelessness and lack of observation of other riders on the road. If legislation is passed to prevent parents from sharing riding with their children, MUCH stricter legislation should be passed for parents who talk on the phone, eat or drink, apply makeup, or any other distractions while driving with their kids in the car. Learn to be a responsible parent, so that the government doesn't have to pass laws to prevent you from harming your own child.

We have an irrational fear of motorcycles in the U.S.

1. Most states DO have laws requiring a child to be able to reach the rear the passenger pegs, and wear a helmet. So, there ARE rules for when it is safe for a child to ride a motorcycle.

2. Recent data shows that 4 of the top 5 reasons for motorcycle accidents are operator error, not other cars. We seem to think that cars are jumping out to hit the bikes on purpose.

3. There are plenty of dangerous activities that we allow kids to participate in. Swimming. Skiing. Horseback Riding. Football! Are we going to ban these due to irrational fear? No, we implement the best safety precautions possible.

So, a responsible adult would require their kid to wear proper protective helmets and clothing, fit the motorcycle properly, and do everything they can to be as well trained as possible (MSF advanced riding courses, plenty of experience) before taking their kid for a ride on a motorcycle. Other rationaliztions for why your kid should not be riding is based on popular histeria.

Now, if your partner is not riding responsibly, that is child endangerment. Don't penalize responsible riders based on the actions of those that are irresponsible.

I am a woman who started riding my own over a decade ago. My husband has ridden for almost all his life. We have three grandchildren who ride with us and started at 5-6 years old. We both have taken the Motorcycle Safety Foundation classes and asked permission to ride the oldest two. The youngest we are raising ourselves.

Motorcycles themselves are not dangerous - just as guns are not. It is the person in use of them and that person's responsibility and experience levels. I have a girlfriend who was raised on her parents motorcycles and traveled the US on them. She today rides her own, is an EMS and a MSF certified instructor. She also raised her three children on motorcycles.

Most of what I am reading into the above posts is: someone is doing something I don't like and I want the law to make them stop.

With our youngest grandchild we got her the Child's Motorcycle Harness and we are very comfortable with her riding with it. She has something her size to grip, she won't fall off unless her Paw Paw falls off and he is assured she is safe so he can concentrate on traffic.

The greatest threat to a motorcycle is not the danger of an accident occurring alone on the road but rather a car driver who "does not see" the motorcycle. So if you know someone who rides you should be extra aware. Look twice and save a life...it might even be a child or grandchild you are saving.

If you are concerned about a child being on a motorcycle do your part to watch more carefully for them. And one of the ways to do that is to put down your cellphone, your makeup, your food and pay attention to the road!

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This page contains a single entry by Randy Ness published on July 29, 2006 2:38 PM.

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