Before a passenger gets on a motorcycle

Motorcycle operators and passengers have responsibilities to ensure a safe ride. Observing state laws and riding techniques can help prevent a crash.

Training and experience is important for a person who wants to become a skilled motorcycle rider in Arkansas. What many people may not realize is that bringing along a passenger changes the ride. Operators and passengers should consider these safety tips before hitting the road for a trip around town or a longer cruise.

Preparing the motorcycle

According to American Motorcyclist, in order to carry a second rider, a motorcycle in Arkansas is required to have a seat and footrests specifically designated for the passenger. In addition, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation points out that the owner's manual should be consulted for facts on weight limitations. Typically, there are also model-specific recommendations for operation, including necessary adjustments to tire pressure and to components such as the suspension.

Preparing the passenger

Passengers on motorcycles have responsibilities that they would not have in any other type of vehicle. American Motorcyclist points out that in Arkansas, anyone riding a motorcycle who is under the age of 21 must wear a helmet, and passengers must meet the minimum age requirement of 8 years old.

According to Esurance.com, passenger safety includes position on the motorcycle. Being able to reach the footrests and avoid contact with the mufflers is essential. Also, a passenger should be able to maintain a firm grip on passenger handholds or the driver's waist for the entire ride.

Because passengers affect the ride significantly, the Motorcycle Safety Foundation lists several techniques that they should be prepared to undertake. When the motorcycle is moving over obstacles such as railroad crossings, the passenger should absorb any shock through the legs by bending the knees and standing up on the footrest. When taking corners, passengers should look past the operator in the direction they are turning.

Preparing the operator

Riding a motorcycle with a passenger can be significantly different from riding solo, and an operator may want to take a couple of test rides in low traffic areas to adjust. He or she should be prepared for the ways that extra weight changes how the motorcycle is operated, including cornering, braking and wind resistance. The movements of the passenger should also be taken into consideration, since they may affect balance, and the forward motion during stops may cause the passenger to shift or bump up against the operator.

Ultimately, the driver is the one who is responsible for passenger safety, and it should never be taken lightly. The passenger is just as vulnerable as the operator in an accident. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration statistics for 2013 show that 6 percent of all motorcycle crash fatalities in that year were passengers.

If a careless or negligent driver causes an accident that leads to a passenger injury, a personal injury attorney may be able to help the victim to receive compensation for medical costs, pain and suffering and lost wages that are the direct result of the crash.