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Sharing Your Passion With A Loved One: Passenger-Rider Safety

daddy help her daughter to fasten the helmet

Every state has its own specific laws and regulations regarding traffic safety. In this article we will discuss some of the laws, regulations, rules and recommendations regarding Motorcycle passengers’ safety. The purpose of this article mirrors the legislative intent as it pertains to motorcycle riders and passengers as detailed in California Vehicle Code Section 27803 (g), “ to ensure all persons are provided with an additional safety benefit while riding and/or operating a motorcycle.”

Motorcycle Passenger-Riders

Surprisingly, California has no child specific laws when it comes to children passenger-riders on a motorcycle. However, California does impose some specific requirements for accompanying motorcycle passenger-riders.

California Vehicle Code Section 27800

California Vehicle Code (CVC) Article 7 Section 27800 titled Passengers; Equipment and usage, sets out the basic equipment your motorcycle needs to carry any other person. Section 27800 requires a motorcycle MUST have a “seat securely fastened to the machine at the rear of the driver.” Also, this section requires for the motorcycle to provide the passenger with “footrests, or in a sidecar attached to the motorcycle and designed for the purpose of carrying a passenger.” Finally, this section requires “every passenger on a motorcycle SHALL keep his/her feet on the footrests while such vehicle is in motion.”

Presumably, the last part of section 27800 acts as a de facto height requirement. In other words, if your passenger-rider is not tall enough to reach the footrests on your motorcycle, then the passenger may not legally ride on the motorcycle.

California Vehicle Code Section 27802 and 27803 (Safety Helmets: Regulation and Requirements)

California law requires all motorcycle passengers to wear a “safety helmet”. Section 27802 establishes specifications and standards for safety helmets. The regulations include, “but are not limited to, the requirements imposed by Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 218.” (49 C.F.R. Sec. 571.218).

Finally, Section 27803 (a) mandates that “ANY passenger SHALL wear a safety helmet meeting the requirements established under section 27802.” Subsection (b) makes it “unlawful to operate a motorcycle if the driver or any passenger is NOT wearing a safety helmet.”

Department of Motor Vehicles

The California Department of Motor Vehicles publishes a California Motorcycle handbook. California’s Handbook provide some recommendations for riding with child passengers. Some of the recommendations set out in the handbook:

  • When riding with a passenger, always remember that your motorcycle will respond more slowly with the added weight of the passenger
  • The child should wear proper gear, including long pants, close-toed shoes, protective gloves, a heavy jacket, and a federally-approved helmet
  • Restraint systems are available to secure the child passenger to the rider by means of belt or harness. (NOTE: THIS IS NOT REQUIRED)

Keeping in mind that emergency situations arise when we least expect it, following these precautions, you should minimize risk and the probability of serious injury. In turn, if someone causes an accident and injures you or your child, you may hold that person legally responsible for any damages caused.

If you or someone you care about has been injured while riding a motorcycle, get help collecting the damages you are owed by contacting the talented and passionate Bay Area motorcycle accident lawyer William E. Weiss for a free consultation at 415-362-6765 ext 157 or preferably my cell at 415-235-7060. You can email me at william.weiss@gmail.com

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