At What Age Can a Child Legally Ride on the Back of a Motorcycle in California?

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At What Age Can a Child Legally Ride on the Back of a Motorcycle in California?

At What Age Can a Child Legally Ride on the Back of a Motorcycle in California?

Jun 2, 2021

California is the perfect place to enjoy a long motorcycle ride. Whether traveling up the coastline or into the mountains, the Golden State’s roads and highways can be filled with majestic scenery for motorcycle riders.

As of 2019, California has the nation’s largest number of registered motorcycles, with over 808,000. The next closest state was Florida, with more than 200,000 less registered bikes when compared to California. With the popularity of motorcycle riding so prevalent in California, many riders want to know when it is legally allowable to have a child accompany them on the back of a bike.

Below we’ll lay out all the details regarding child motorcycle laws and look at the latest statistics regarding accidents and fatalities. Additionally, we’ll review how to file a personal injury claim in the event on an unfortunate accident.

Can Kids Ride on the Back of a Motorcycle in California?

The answer to “At what age can a child ride on the back of a motorcycle?” is not a simple yes or no. Firstly, there’s no age requirement for a child to ride on the back of a motorcycle in California. However, there is a height requirement. Children must be at least be four feet, eight inches tall in order to legally ride on the back of a motorcycle with an adult. That specific height is also the same classification for when a child is no longer required to sit in a car seat when traveling in a motor vehicle. That height also happens to be the same length required for a motorcycle passenger to safely reach the footrests. Accordingly, if a passenger is unable to touch the footrests on the back of a motorcycle, he or she is likely an unlawful passenger.

Although the nation’s seatbelt laws clearly state that children under the age of eight must have appropriate security restraints (e.g. a car seat) when traveling in a motor vehicle, those laws do not include motorcycles. Children are not required to wear seatbelts when riding on the back of motorcycles, although doing so is recommended as a safety precaution. However, one of the “proper precautions” stated in the California Motorcycle Handbook includes installing a restraint system for a child passenger.

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California’s Motorcycle Handbook clearly states that children may ride on motorcycles so long as drivers “take proper precautions.” Those precautions are as follows:

  • Owning a motorcycle having a passenger seat and passenger footrests
  • Ensuring the child is tall enough to reach the footrests
  • Equipping the child with a comfortable, federally approved safety helmet
  • Dressing the child in motorcycle equipment: long pants, closed-toed sneakers, protective gloves, and a thick coat
  • Installing a restraint program for a child passenger

Although the issue of whether or not to allow a child to ride on the back of a motorcycle may be controversial, adults can travel safely on motorcycles with children provided that all the proper precautions are taken.

California Motorcycle Safety Statistics

California Motorcycle Safety Statistics

With so many Californians enjoying motorcycles, there are bound to be some accidents given the sheer volume of traffic on California’s roads and highways. Fortunately, motorcycle fatalities as well as deaths to non-helmet wearing riders have both decreased according to the most recent statistics.

The California Office of Traffic Safety (OTS) reports that in 2019 motorcycle fatalities decreased 9.4% to 474 (down from 523 in 2018). Additionally, motorcyclist deaths from not wearing a helmet decreased 18% to 28 in 2019 (down from 34 in 2018).

Both of those statistics are encouraging for California’s motorcycle enthusiasts, particularly considering that in 2018 the San Gabriel Valley Tribune reported that motorcycle-involved deaths have been on the rise for 22 years (especially in Southern California).

Everyone knows that Southern California can be a dangerous place for operators of any type of motor vehicle. The University of California, Berkeley found that 12,844 motorcycle riders were injured throughout the state in traffic collisions in 2015. In the event of a motorcycle accident, a personal injury lawsuit can help you recover damages for any resulting medical expenses, pain and suffering, lost wages, or emotional trauma.

How to File a California Motorcycle Accident Lawsuit

While riding a motorcycle can be a leisurely experience that is enjoyed safely, the unfortunate fact is that when motorcycle accidents do happen, they often result in serious or catastrophic injuries. In the worst cases, fatalities occur.

In 2019, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported that motorcyclists involved in a traffic collision are 26-28 times more likely to die (and nine times more likely to be injured) than automobile passengers.

Some of the common injuries that can result from motorcycle accidents include:

  • Traumatic brain injuries (TBI)
  • Concussion (MTBI)
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Road rash injuries
  • Lower extremity injuries
  • Internal organ damage
  • Lacerations, scrapes, and bruises

If you’re injured in a motorcycle accident, the injuries sustained can leave your world turned upside down. Medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, reduced quality of life, and more should not be the responsibility of you, the motorcyclist, but of the at-fault car or truck driver who cut you off.

By filing a personal injury claim, the motorcycle accident attorneys at Dordulian Law Group (DLG) can help you recover financial compensation so you get the best medical care available and aren’t left with financial hardship over lost wages or a reduced earning capacity.

The experienced DLG Motorcycle Accident Division team is let by former Deputy District Attorney for Los Angeles County, Sam Dordulian. Dordulian has successfully handled over 100 jury trials, and he uses that experience to help recover maximum financial compensation for every motorcycle accident victim. With DLG, motorcycle riders who were injured in an accident don’t have to worry about having to accept a lowball settlement offer from an insurance company. At DLG, every motorcycle accident case is prepared for trial, ensuring we never settle for less than what you truly deserve for your immediate injuries and any future care or rehabilitation required.

Our experienced attorneys can help you pursue a financial award for your personal injury case. Contact us online or by phone for a free consultation today.

Motorcycle accident cases are investigated by retired LAPD detective, Moses Castillo. As DLG’s Chief Investigator, Castillo uncovers the critical evidence that can be the difference between a $10,000 settlement and a multi-million dollar settlement. After working in the LAPD’s elite Central Traffic Division, Castillo now helps us fight to recover the maximum damages motorcycle accident victims deserve.

And with two of our Motorcycle Accident Division attorneys having previously served as defense counsel for major auto insurance companies, our clients can have peace of mind knowing that we’ll effectively counter any dirty trick or underhanded tactic one of these major corporations might attempt. It’s one of the many added advantages motorcycle accident victims receive when they choose DLG.

And with our 98% success rate and over $100 million recovered in settlements and verdicts for injured clients like you, DLG is clearly the best motorcycle accident law firm in California. Our No Win/No Fee Guarantee means you never pay a penny until we recover maximum financial compensation on your behalf.

To learn more about what makes DLG the best attorneys around for motorcycle accident claims, contact us online or call 818-322-4056.


Dordulian Law Group has been recognized for creating one of the Top 60 Personal Injury Law Blogs for 2021 by FeedSpot.

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