What Parents Need to Know If Their Child Is Considering a Motorcycle

I drive a motorcycle; can my child ride with me?

In NYS, there is no minimum age for motorcycle passengers. Children that ride with you must be able to do so safely. They should be old enough to understand the dangers of motorcycle riding as well as the importance of riding safely.

If children do ride, they need the proper gear, just like adults. This includes a motorcycle helmet that fits properly, eye protection, long pants and a jacket made of durable material, gloves and boots or other durable shoes that cover the ankle and will not slip off.

All passengers need to be able to sit properly behind the driver, with one leg on each side of the motorcycle.

How do I know if my teen is ready to drive a motorcycle?

Seriously consider whether your teenager is responsible enough to drive a motorcycle before allowing him or her to do so.

Driving a motorcycle is more difficult than driving a car as it requires more agility, coordination and alertness. Driving a motorcycle can also be more dangerous than driving a car, and in a crash, motorcycles offer no protection.

How can my teen get a motorcycle license?

Teens must first get a learner's permit by taking a written exam at a DMV testing center. The NYS Department of Motor Vehicles recommends a minimum of 30 hours of practice before taking the licensure test. When a learner is practicing, a driver with a valid motorcycle license must supervise him/her. The supervising driver must be within sight and no more than ¼ mile from the learner at all times. Visit DMV's Resources for the Younger Driver page for more information about restriction on learner's permits and junior licenses.

A rider education course is also recommended. In NYS, after passing the Motorcycle Safety Foundations' Basic RiderCourse®, participants will receive a waiver for the road test.

What does my teen need to wear while riding a motorcycle?

Buy a motorcycle helmet brand and size that fits well prior to adjustments. Adjust the chinstraps so that the helmet does not slide from side to side or front to back. For a proper fit, the helmet should sit squarely on top of the teen's head, covering the top of the forehead, and should not tilt in any direction.

Both motorcycle drivers and passengers should always wear a Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards 218 approved motorcycle helmet. Helmets must have a sticker on the outside back of the helmet with the letters "DOT" to certify that the helmet meets or exceeds these safety standards. A full-face helmet offers the highest level of protection in a crash.

"Novelty helmets" are illegal to wear in NYS. Novelty helmets can look like DOT-approved helmets, but they do not have the DOT label. These helmets are often smaller and lighter than helmets made to DOT standards and offer little protection in a crash. They lack the energy-absorbing foam that protects the brain during impact. Visit NHTSA's website for more information on how to identify an unsafe helmet.

Anyone riding a motorcycle should also wear eye protection and durable clothing including a heavyweight jacket and long pants. Gloves are recommended as well. Wearing brightly colored clothing helps to make the motorcyclist more visible to other drivers.