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Child Pillions: Why Risk It?

Updated on February 22, 2015
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Motorcycles Are Fun But!

I have always loved motorcycles, even though I have always considered myself a bit on the coward side of life, just a bit. With that said, I also love the news, maybe a little bit too much. As a result, however, I can’t say that I have missed much where news is concerned; road fatalities included. It makes me happy sometimes that my bike-riding lessons and adventures were interrupted over ten years ago, when I relocated to another community.

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One Two Many Motorbike Accidents

The fact is that I have seen one too many motorbike accidents, many of them were fatalities and many injuries or deaths could have been avoided if only the riders or pillions were wearing safety gears...or traveling by another mode of transportation; yes I said it, cool and convenient as it may be or seem. With that said, I have noticed that there is an increase in the transporting of children on motorbikes, especially to and from school. I have also noticed that in many cases, either the rider or the pillion is not wearing sufficient safety gears; in some cases, neither is wearing sufficient gears.

A motorcycle accident
A motorcycle accident | Source

The Debate on Legality and Safety

As if it isn’t bad enough that child pillions are not wearing the requisite gears, there is also the propensity for riders to put the children in front of them on the motorbikes. I am guessing that this practice is in a bid to try to secure them (the children) better than they would be if they were behind the riders. But how much of this really is legal and how much of it really is safe?

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One thing that jumped out at me as I researched the legality of these practices is the fact that many laws speak to the need for the parents or guardians to be the riders when transporting the child(ren). This however sounds rather foolhardy to me as an accident with a nephew or a friend’s child on the motorcycle is just as deadly as an accident with an offspring. My guess is that the natural instinct of parents is being factored into the rationale, but this is quite debatable.

A small child being held by a pillion on the back of a motorcycle
A small child being held by a pillion on the back of a motorcycle | Source

Let’s however look at the additional legal requirements. In many places, there is a requirement for the child to be over the age of five and able to have his/her foot reach the motorcycle’s footrest or stand. Likewise in some cases, in the event that the child is under the age of five, there needs to be either a body strap/harness, used to strap the child onto the adult. A sidecar for transporting the child is another option.

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Ill-Fitted Adult Helmets and Optional Safety Gears

Notwithstanding, there are cases where there is no age limit on the child, once he can sit astride a proper seat. It is also mandatory for the pillion to wear a helmet. It is important to note here that I oftentimes see children in ill-fitted adult helmets. This is akin to putting a basin over a child’s head and expecting it to protect him from harm. Additional safety gears are usually optional, despite the prudence of such a need. These gears include safety jackets, shoes and pants.

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Motorcycle Safety Jacket

Additional Concerns For Safety

It would seem like a fair attempt to have these safety measures in place, but how much protection can a strap really offer a child when he is hit off the bike with his 200 pound dad strapped to him, rolling at 100 KM/H? Likewise, motorcycles are infamous for little crevices which would be harmless for an adult foot, but quite easy to trap a child’s foot. This also includes the chain of the motorcycle.

Motorcycle Chain
Motorcycle Chain | Source
Possible hazards for child pillions
Possible hazards for child pillions | Source

Speechless! Why risk it?

What are your views on transporting child pillions?

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Adult Statistic Worse But Why Risk It?

To be fair to motorcycle riders, while their fatality rate might be considered unacceptable, the documentation for child pillion fatalities though hard to come by, shows much better statistics for the regions where information was available. However, for a parent to watch a child crippled or badly damaged from a motorcycle accident, there probably are things that are worse than death. Likewise, one death is always one death too many. True, children die by other means, but let’s stick to the topic at hand.

When all is said and done, I would personally refrain from transporting my child in this manner. For the motorcycle lovers though, if you absolutely must transport your child in this fashion, please do exercise extreme caution and ensure all safety gears are used. Avoiding highways and freeways might also be a good thing as this will impact the speed at which you are expected to travel. Overall cutting of your speed is also advisable.

Caution!
Caution! | Source

Some Reported Determinants For Transporting Child Pillions

  1. Rider’s perceived or actual skill level
  2. Potential pillion’s level of maturity and experience
  3. Purpose for the ride
  4. Type of motorcycle
  5. Type of Roadway to be traversed
  6. Distance to be traversed
  7. Availability of sufficient safety gears
  8. Relationship to potential pillion

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    • Keisha Hunter profile image
      Author

      Keisha Hunter 2 years ago from Paradise and then some

      Thanks much, I try

    • clivewilliams profile image

      Clive Williams 2 years ago from Nibiru

      Nice hub my friend, continue to write