For many motorcyclists, riding a motorcycle is a visceral, solo experience—feeling the power of the bike, the cool air and the open road behind you. However, bringing along a guest is a great way to enjoy the ride with someone who maybe doesn’t themselves ride. Keep in mind that if you ride with a passenger, you should extremely cautious, as there can be serious risks associated with having a passenger on board your bike.
You should only take a passenger if you’re a trained and experienced rider. First and foremost, it’s important to make sure your bike can accommodate more than one person, equipped with passenger footrests and a separate seating. Your owner’s manual will likely provide valuable information about weight limitations and necessary bike adjustments. In Washington, the law does not allow passengers under the age of 5 years old. Additionally, they should be tall enough to reach the footrests.
Having a passenger adds extra weight to your bike, making it less responsive and more difficult to handle. Always practice safe riding habits with or without a guest on board. You should only take along a passenger if the passenger is wearing the proper motorcycle safety gear, including DOT/Snell -approved helmet. Your motorcycle passenger should wear protective shoes, gloves, durable pants and outerwear.
Since you’re the one controlling the bike, it’s your responsibility to keep your passenger safe. It’s also your responsibility to educate your companion on how to properly behave as a passenger. Passengers should know on how to stay alert and be prepared in case of a spill. With some practice, they can be an active participant to the riding experience by helping you look out for potential dangers on the road.
Motorcycle Passenger Safety Practices
Make sure your passenger understands safe riding practices. It can be helpful to agree upon key hand signals prior to your ride to establish communication, such as one for “pull over” and another for “slow down.” Helmet to helmet communication devices can be even more effective and fun as well. Before getting on your bike, a safe and smart passenger should know how to:
- Keep feet on the footrests when the bike is stationary, away from the exhaust. Let the pilot put his or her feet down when the bike is not moving.
- Hold on tight on the rider’s hips and stay still while moving, with their weight centered over the motorcycle.
- Look over the rider’s shoulder in the direction of the turn when making a left or right turn to help center weight.
- Wait for the rider to alert them when it’s okay to mount or dismount.
In the state of Washington, motorcycle liability insurance is not required. However, our team at Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys highly recommend purchasing a full package motorcycle insurance policy, including guest passenger liability and uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage. Medical payment coverage can be more expensive on a bike, but it’s always a good idea to carry as well. It’s a good idea to look into covering yourself, your passenger and your assets in the event of an accident. There is no charge to give us a call if you want to review your coverages.
Sharing your hobby or passion for riding with a friend, significant other or family member can be a fun and safe experience if you follow our recommended motorcycle passenger safety tips. If you have any additional questions or would like more information on motorcycle passenger safety, contact Evergreen Motorcycle Attorneys and schedule a free consultation today.