Before you take a child passenger

Every now and then I see a rider carrying his young child on the pillion seat and it amazes me how some “parents” kit their kids out for the ride, needless to say, that the child doesn’t even fit properly or safely.

Carrying a child as a passenger on a motorcycle, certain legal guidelines pertaining to this situation must be adhered to, not just because it’s law but because of the love for your child. You do love your child, don’t you? Then show it!

Providing you are rightfully licensed to carry a passenger on a motorcycle as per the National Road Traffic Act & Regulations, Part II “Learners and Driving Licences”, Regulation 99, sub-regulation 2 (b) stating that “A learner’s licence in respect of a motorcycle shall not authorise the holder of it to drive a motorcycle on a public road while carrying another person.”

Further to this, both the rider and passenger must comply with Regulation 207 of said National Road Traffic Act & Regulations, titled “Compulsory wearing of protective helmet”:

Compulsory wearing of a protective helmet

(1) No person shall drive or be a passenger on a motorcycle, motor tricycle or a motor quadrucycle, or be a passenger in the side-car attached to a motorcycle, on a public road, unless he or she is wearing a protective helmet—

(a) which is specially designed for use in connection with such cycle; and
(b) which fits him or her properly and of which the chin strap is properly fastened under the chin.

(2) After expiry of three years from the date of commencement of this regulation, no person shall drive or be a passenger on a pedal cycle on a public road unless he or she is wearing a protective helmet which fits him or her properly and of which the chin strap is properly fastened under the chin.
(3) The driver of a motorcycle, motor tricycle, motor quadrucycle or pedal cycle shall ensure that any passenger in or on such cycle who is younger than 14 years, complies with the provisions of sub-regulation (1) or (2), as the case may be.

Although this law is not nearly sufficient in setting out the importance of proper riding gear, I add the following guidelines and recommendation:

  • Helmet: Full-face helmet covering the whole head, sides, and back, fitted with a clear visor protecting the eyes, and which adheres to SABS, DOT or ECE standards.
  • Jacket: Motorcycle specific garment of abrasion resistant fabric such as cordura or leather and fitted with armouring in the elbow and back compartments.
  • Gloves: Full finger with a leather palm base and fabric at the top of the hand with joint protection on the fingers.
  • Pants: At the very least, denim jeans, or when and where available Kevlar/ballistic nylon reinforced riding pants.
  • Boots: Over-the-ankle boots with laces tied short to not get entangled in the foot-rests.
  • Pillion Strap: Both Oxford or the folks at Bike Gear, supply a pillion strap that ties around the waist of the rider, and provide handles for the passenger to hold on to.

Finally, Regulation 309 and sub-regulation (2) of the said National Road Traffic Act & Regulations, states:

Duties relating to a motorcycle or motor tricycle

(2) No person shall on a public road carry a passenger on a motorcycle unless such cycle has an engine with a cylinder capacity exceeding 50 cubic centimetres and unless such passenger is seated in a side-car or astride on a pillion attached to such cycle and, in such latter event, the feet of the passenger are resting on foot-rests suitable for that purpose.

In closing, and as a fellow parent, I want to stress the importance of taking care of your riding manner, to be of excellent conduct and attitude toward other road users at all times. This not only while carrying your young child as a passenger but also when out riding on your own. Spend the same amount of money, if not more, on the riding gear of your young passenger than you would spend on yourself … no compromise.

Seek the best quality helmet your money can buy, and the same goes for the rest of the riding apparel.

Don’t take this seriously, then let’s hope you’ll never have to see your child all broken and bruised in a hospital bed, or worse, stand over his or her grave with regret that will never leave you.