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When Can a Child Legally Be a Motorcycle Passenger in Texas?

You may enjoy motorcycling and have a child. They may enjoy riding with you, and your bike may be your primary means of transportation. But motorcycling comes with risks, and although Texas law allows children to ride on motorcycles with some limitations, you must decide if the chances are worth it.

Legal Issues

Under Texas law

  • You may be fined if your passenger is younger than five years old
  • Unless they’re riding in an attached sidecar

Texas motorcycle helmet laws are also a factor. All passengers under 21 years years old must wear a motorcycle helmet that meets all federal requirements. It must fit properly to provide maximum protection. Simply putting an adult helmet on a child won’t be enough.

Malorie’s Law, an amendment to Texas statutes passed in 2014, states that a motorcycle carrying two people, no matter their age, must have:

  • Handholds and footrests for a motorcycle passenger
  • A permanent seat behind or to the operator’s side

Placing a child in front of the rider is prohibited.  A handhold could be a luggage rack, leather grip, or another fixed grip. Failing to meet these requirements could mean facing a misdemeanor criminal charge.

If you fail to comply with these laws and are pulled over by the police or the child is injured or killed in an accident, you could face the felony charge of child endangerment. Texas law states:

“A person commits an offense if he intentionally, knowingly, recklessly, or with criminal negligence, by act or omission, engages in conduct that places a child younger than 15 years in imminent danger of death, bodily injury, or physical or mental impairment.”

If the child is a family member living with you, your motorcycle insurance should pay for the child’s injuries up to the policy limit. If another party’s at fault, you could seek compensation from them. 

If you’re riding with a child not your own, you acted negligently and caused an accident that injured or killed them, you could face an insurance claim or lawsuit by their parents against you seeking compensation for the child’s injuries or a wrongful death claim.

Practical Issues

Do you want to ride a motorcycle with a child? Those on motorcycles face a much higher risk of injury or death than those riding in a vehicle. Per mile traveled in 2019, the number of fatalities of motorcyclists was nearly 29 times the number of those riding in cars, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. If you’re an adult, you can decide if the benefits of motorcycling outweigh the risks. A child lacks the capacity to do so.

 

There are many issues to consider. The child must understand the need to hold onto handholds and keep their feet on the footrests (assuming their legs are long enough to reach them). You’ll need to instruct them on what they must do to be safe, and they need to understand what you’re saying and comply. The child must be physically strong enough to brace themselves if you take evasive action. In addition to the helmet, the child should have other protective equipment (gloves, boots, eyewear, protective clothing). 

A sidecar is an option if your passenger is a child. But they fundamentally alter how you control the motorcycle. If the sidecar isn’t attached to the bike correctly, it doesn’t properly align with it, or you lack experience driving with one, you may add to the potential dangers you face when you’re on your motorcycle.

Get the Help You Need From Houston Motorcycle Accident Attorneys You Can Trust

Call Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P. at (713) 893-0971 if you need a Houston motorcycle accident lawyer with years of regional court system experience. As a personal injury law firm in Texas, we help injured negligence victims like you obtain fair compensation for their injuries. Call us today to schedule your free consultation and start the process of protecting your legal rights.

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