Image of a father with two young children smiling and wearing motorcycle helmets and goggles

Yes, children can ride on a motorcycle as a passenger in South Carolina. However, to do so legally, a few requirements must be met:

  • Your child must wear a helmet if he or she is under the age of 21
  • Your motorcycle must be designed to carry a passenger or be equipped with a sidecar/enclosed cab
  • Your motorcycle must have footrests for your passenger
  • Your child must ride on your motorcycle’s passenger seat, sidecar, or enclosed cab
  • Your child must not interfere with your ability to control your motorcycle or view of the road ahead, in other words, your child cannot ride in front of you.

What’s the Minimum Age for a Child to Ride on a Motorcycle as a Passenger?

Some states have a minimum age limit for motorcycle passengers. In Arkansas, Louisiana, Texas, and Washington, the minimum age ranges from 5 to 8 years old. However, most states don’t have a minimum age, including South Carolina.

Deciding to allow your child to ride as a passenger on your motorcycle is a personal judgment call. If your child is riding in a sidecar or enclosed cab, he or she can ride “passively,” which means less is required of them while your motorcycle is in motion.

What Do Children Need to Do to Ride Safely as Motorcycle Passengers?

If your child is riding on your motorcycle’s passenger seat directly behind you, he or she must be able to:

  • Fit into a DOT-approved helmet and protective riding gear
  • Sit still while the motorcycle is traveling in a straight line or stopped
  • Remain upright and focused throughout the entire ride
  • Lean into turns
  • Maintain balance while the motorcycle is stopped
  • Hold on tightly to you or the motorcycle at all times
  • Reach the footrests with his or her feet

How Do You Know if Your Child Is Ready to Ride as a Passenger?

If your child is unable to fulfill any of the requirements above, it’s a strong indicator that he or she isn’t ready to safely ride on your motorcycle as a passenger yet.

Many riders use footrests as their barometer for whether their children are ready to ride as passengers. If their kids’ feet can’t reach their motorcycles’ footrests, they aren’t ready to ride yet.

However, just because your child is old enough, tall enough, and strong enough to safely ride as a passenger doesn’t mean he or she is mentally ready. Never force your child to ride on your motorcycle if he or she isn’t ready to do so.

How Can You Ease Your Child into Riding on a Motorcycle?

Just as you would ease your child into learning how to drive a motorcycle, it’s also important to ease him or her into learning how to be a safe and confident motorcycle passenger.

  • Don’t carry a passenger until you are a confident, experienced, and knowledgeable rider. Novice riders should never carry passengers, especially young children.
  • Avoid letting your child ride on your motorcycle until he or she has learned how to ride a bike. This skill helps children develop the balance and body control needed to safely ride as motorcycle passengers.
  • Get your child used to sitting on your motorcycle when it’s stationary and safely parked in your driveway before taking them on a ride. When he or she is capable of holding on properly and following your directions, you’re ready to head out—but don’t jump right into highway travel just yet.
  • Take short, low-speed trips around your neighborhood first. Let your child acclimate to riding as a passenger in safer conditions with less traffic, lower speed, and fewer turns.
  • Avoid riding in inclement weather or during times of low visibility. When you’re riding with a passenger, you’re in charge of their safety and well-being, too—and that means avoiding unnecessary risks.

Our South Carolina Motorcycle Accident Lawyers Help Injured Riders and Passengers

Motorcyclists and their passengers face big risks when they ride in South Carolina. They’re at a significantly higher risk of being injured and even killed when they’re involved in crashes with vehicles. Sadly, many drivers simply don’t look out for motorcycle riders, and their distraction, inattention, and carelessness cause countless preventable motorcycle accidents every year.

At Joye Law Firm, our South Carolina motorcycle accident attorneys work hard to help injured riders and their passengers get maximum compensation for their crash-related expenses. The costs of motorcycle accidents can be overwhelming, and many victims wipe out their savings just to pay for medical bills and cover lost wages.

If you or someone you love, especially a child, is injured in a motorcycle accident that wasn’t your fault, contact us today for a free consultation.

About the Author

Mark Joye is the Head of the Litigation Department at the Joye Law Firm. A Board-Certified Trial Advocate with nearly 30 years of litigation experience, he currently serves on the Board of Governors for the American Association for Justice and is a past president of the South Carolina Association for Justice. In a recent trial, Joye headed a trial team that secured $17 million for a family killed in a tractor-trailer accident.

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