Most two-wheeler enthusiasts are drawn to motorcycles since their childhood. We are riders today, but there was a time when we rode pillion with our father, uncles or some adult in the family. There is quite a possibility that you have children at home or in your family who share the same interests as you. Riding pillion to them is a way to deal with the impatient long wait to grow up and ride a two-wheeler of their own. However, if you don't take proper safety precautions, riding a two-wheeler with children can be as dangerous as it is thrilling and exciting. Fret not though, for everything you need to know to ride a two-wheeler safely with children will be covered in this article.
As a rider you might have all the necessary protective gear, but riding gear for children is often overlooked, as children do not ride by themselves. Getting appropriate safety gear for your child is the first and the most crucial step in ensuring their safety. There are helmets, jackets, gloves and shoes available for children as well. When using a two-wheeler, your child should always wear proper gear. The chin strap on the helmet should be fastened securely, so that it doesn’t come off in case of a mishap. A fall doesn’t differentiate between a rider and a pillion, nor does it differentiate between an adult and a child, so make sure your child is wearing as much protection as you are, while riding.
Not all two-wheelers are safe for the pillion
You might have a sports bike in your garage with all the safety features and the latest tech. However, it might not be the safest ride for your child. Pick a two-wheeler with a spacious, comfortable seat, a sturdy, easily graspable grab rail or a seat strap for the child to hold onto. It is best to avoid riding with children on a higher capacity motorcycle as the sudden power and intense braking can unsettle children, and even scare them. Scooters and motorcycles, designed to carry a pillion rider comfortably, preferably under 500 cc are best suited for this purpose, as they are much easier to control and will not shock or jolt the child. Also, it is best to avoid motorcycles that do not have proper grab rails to prevent the child from losing grip.
Ensure a secure seating position
To make sure the child is secure and comfortable, the seating position must be adjusted. The young passenger should sit in the back and hold onto the backrest or grab rail. The rider should make sure the child's knees are not pressed up against the back of the rider and that their feet can comfortably reach the foot pegs. Most Indian families will have the child either standing in the front on a scooter or seated on the tank of the motorcycle. This is extremely dangerous and must be avoided at all costs. In case of a collision, the children are prone to a face first impact on the handlebar of the two-wheeler. The children should always be seated behind the rider.
Do not overspeed
When a child is riding in the backseat, it's critical for the rider to be at a safe speed. Riding too fast can be risky and may raise the possibility of accidents. Always maintain a safe distance from other road users and refrain from abrupt braking or acceleration. Sudden acceleration can lead the child to slide back on the seat and risk a fall. Abrupt braking could lead the child to slide to the front and have a face first impact on the rider’s back.
Adapt to the road conditions
Observe the state of the roads and modify your riding technique as necessary. Avoid riding on surfaces with insufficient grip, and exercise extra caution when riding on irregular terrain. When riding around bends or turns, be extra cautious and slow down. Remember, the child is seated behind you, and has very little knowledge of what’s happening on the road. They will not be prepared for sudden acceleration or abrupt braking. Also, do not lean the two-wheeler when on a bend or a corner, as the child might not be used to such riding and might lose balance and fall off.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
It's essential to be prepared for emergencies while riding with or without a child on a two-wheeler. Carry a first-aid kit and a tool kit to fix any minor issues that may arise. Make sure your mobile phone is charged and carry emergency contact numbers in case an emergency arises. Ensure that the child has contact numbers with him/her as well. God forbid, if you fall unconscious in case of an accident, the child should be able to call for help. Train the child on how to use the first aid kit.
To help your child get accustomed to riding a two-wheeler, start with short rides. As the child gets more at ease, gradually increase the rides' length and distance. Until you and your child are comfortable handling it, avoid riding in heavy traffic or on busy roads. As a rider, you will also need to get accustomed to riding with a child. Once you and your child are comfortable with the short rides, attempt the longer rides.
Once you start taking those longer rides, ensure that you take breaks. Stretch your legs frequently and give your child some downtime. Long rides can be tiring for both the rider and the child, so taking breaks is important to prevent fatigue. This should be practised even when you are riding solo or without a child.
Be a good role model
Finally, set an example for your child by riding safely and adhering to traffic laws. Children learn through observation and imitation, so it's important to lead by example. Also, avoid cursing fellow riders or drivers on the road. If you pull stunts, indulge in harsh riding or unnecessary revving, the children will tend to imitate and would think it is okay to follow your footsteps. Set the right example! rider.