Biker Dad: Have the feds really outlawed child passengers on mot - WMC Action News 5 - Memphis, Tennessee

Biker Dad: Have the feds really outlawed child passengers on motorcycles?

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The outlaw image is a deeply rooted part of motorcycle culture. But recent reports spreading on social media say that the smallest bikers are exactly that, outlaws. But has United States government really made it illegal to carry a passenger under the age of 18 on a bike? 

The news started spreading after an article posted on September 10th. It was on a web page called "Associated Media Coverage" and reads in part:

The U.S. Federal government has announced a new safety regulation that will prevent minors under the age of 18-years old from riding as a passenger on motorcycles. According to government officials, the United States Department of Transportation (D.O.T) and the American Motorcyclist Association were supportive and heavily involved in developing the regulation.

 That news would obviously be blasphemous to parents who enjoy spending time on two wheels with their kids. It would also be absolutely false. If the vaguely official sounding, but obviously fake name of the publication didn't give away that this article is a farce, a quick check of the popular myth-busting site will. Snopes says:

There was no truth to the story. Associated Media Coverage is a fake news site that typically spreads falsehoods regarding to non-existent laws or statutes which would affect a specific subset of the population. Unlike other "satire" sites, Associated Media Coverage does not carry a disclaimer identifying its content as fiction.

I've actually written extensively about laws pertaining to child passengers on motorcycles since I wrote this story about a mom shamed on social media for letting her 7-year-old daughter ride.  She organized a rally in Texas to support other parents who ride with their kids. The laws on child passengers are on the state level, not the federal level. 

In Texas, where that shamed mom lives, the law reads: 

"A passenger must be at least five years old. If the passenger is under 21 years old they must wear a helmet. If the passenger is 21 years old or older they may be exempt from wearing a helmet if they meet the exemption requirements.

For more information on passengers, visit: Texas Transportation Code and read Chapter 545 Section 416."

Here in Tennessee, where I live,  the law isn't based on age. According to the state motorcycle manual:

"Effective July 1, 2012, it is a Class C misdemeanor to carry a child as a passenger on a motorcycle whose feet are not on footpegs. This law does not apply to persons riding in a motorcycle sidecar.(2012 Public Chapter 907)."

So, my advice is this: learn the law where you live and follow it. But more importantly know your skills and even the skills of your passenger before hitting the road.

Please be careful out there, and follow me on social media:

Chris Best is the Assistant News Director for WMC Action News 5. He's a husband and father of four. He's also a motorcycle enthusiast.

Copyright 2016 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.

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