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As a motorcycle enthusiast, you probably agree that it’s a good thing to pass your love of riding to the next generation and to instill safe riding habits in the enthusiasts of tomorrow. Today we’ll muse a bit about the best way to encourage safe motorcycle riding in children.
If there’s one thing we know about teaching children to do the right thing, it’s that we’ve got to walk the walk, not just talk the talk. Setting a good example is the single best way to encourage our kids to be safe—no matter what the activity might be. So, it’s best not to debate the efficacy of laws designed to promote motorcycle safety when little ears are absorbing every word. Older children, of course, can understand that you might have to obey a law you don’t like much, but little tykes may well get the wrong message.
If you do any of your own mechanic-ing — even just changing the oil — have your child “help.” Fixing equipment leads to respect for it. Working on your motorcycle together gives you a chance to talk about what parts get hot and what parts might snag a small hand or a scarf and so on. And working together is maybe the best bonding agent short of duct tape. Just be patient, set aside extra time for the task, and don’t push the child past their point of boredom.
If your children ride bikes of any kind, be sure they wear their safety gear—every time, every place. If they ride dirt bikes and the like, they should have a full-face helmet. The most common injuries happen when little faces hit the handlebars, and a full-face helmet cuts way down on the damage. They also need good boots, leather or other protective jackets, long pants, and safety gloves. They also need your supervision to be sure they don’t do something foolish.
When you take a child for a ride, be sure they are old enough to hang on and to understand the instructions you give them. Practice before you hit the street and maybe stay out of fast, heavy traffic. The lower the motorcycle rides, the easier it is for the child to get on and off.
Children should not give rides to other children unless you are supervising closely. It’s a scenario for showing off, and that leads quickly to accidents.
Remember that children cannot judge speed and distance as well as you can. They also have more trouble seeing things with their side vision and judging their direction. Take that into account when you teach them to ride (and even when you teach them to cross the street).
Don’t expect adult behavior from children. Their attention span is short, and they fidget when they are bored. So keep lessons and rides short and enjoyable. Remember, you want them to have fun as well as be as safe as possible whether they are riding with you or on their own.
Do you have good ideas for teaching children to be safe on motorcycles? Let us know via the Eagle Leather Facebook page.