Although many motorcycles you see on Oklahoma’s roads are carrying just a single rider, most are designed to carry a passenger. Riding with a passenger can bring a new element of fun to traveling on a motorcycle, but it also doubles the danger and creates new challenges for avoiding a crash.
With another person on a motorcycle, everything about its handling will change. Many motorcycle crashes involving a passenger are due to riders being unfamiliar with these changes or simply not expecting them. Don’t be caught off guard or unprepared if you take a friend, family member, or significant other around town on your bike—follow these tips and stay safe.
Don’t Carry a Passenger if You’re Still a Novice Rider
Riding a motorcycle by yourself is difficult enough. Adding a passenger can significantly increase the difficulty, especially if they aren’t experienced with riding on the back of a motorcycle themselves. If you’re relatively new to riding or you don’t have many hours on your bike and are still learning its handling, hold off on carrying a passenger until you gain experience, confidence, and familiarity.
Ensure They Wear the Proper Equipment
Your passenger should be just as protected as you when you ride. That means ensuring they wear full gear—a properly fitted helmet, riding jacket, gloves, pants, and boots. Never skip any equipment, regardless of trip length, time of day, or weather. If the person who wants to ride with you doesn’t have any safety gear, or the gear you have doesn’t fit them, don’t let them on your motorcycle!
Establish Ground Rules before Heading Out
Although your passenger won’t be shifting gears, accelerating, or braking, they WILL have a significant effect on the way your bike handles and turns. That means you need to ensure that they know what to do and what not to do on the road.
The most important rule is to hold on properly and tightly—around your waist, hips, or torso, or on designated handles that are designed for passengers. Make sure your passenger stays still and doesn’t make any sudden movements while you’re riding, as it can affect your balance and cause a crash if you aren’t expecting it. And because the road and wind noise may make verbal communication impossible, establish shoulder taps that they can use to let you know if they want you to slow down or stop.
Teach Them How to Handle Turns
The most prominent and noticeable way that motorcycle passengers participate when riding a motorcycle is by leaning their bodies during turns. Different bikes handle differently, so while sportbikes may require that passengers lean significantly during turns, cruisers may require less movement and less leaning. Your passenger should lean to match the lean of your bike, which may take some practice and getting used to before they’re comfortable leaning far enough.
Practice Makes Perfect
Both you and your passenger will need some time to learn how to ride together. That’s why it’s a good idea to spend some time practicing with them on the back of your bike before you hit the highway or get far from home. Spend time navigating your neighborhood or even a large parking lot to get the feel for how their weight changes your motorcycle’s handling and balance, and to give them a chance to get comfortable riding with you.
Head Out Only on Nice Days
There’s no reason to make riding with a passenger more challenging than it needs to be. That’s why you should ride only on nice days with plenty of visibility and smooth, dry asphalt. When you don’t have to worry about not being able to see the road ahead of you or driving over slick or cracked roads, you’ll be able to focus more on safely carrying your passenger around town.
Ride Smoothly and Safely
When you ride with a passenger, you can’t do many of the things on your bike that you can do when you’re riding alone. It’s best to take a few steps back in your riding and focus on safety over challenging yourself. You should also avoid more difficult routes, including roads with hairpin turns and dramatic elevation changes—at least until you and your passenger have gained more experience riding together.
Whether You Ride Solo or With a Passenger, Other Drivers Are Your Biggest Threat
Following the tips above can help maximize your safety while carrying a passenger, but ultimately, your safety relies on other drivers seeing you and doing their best to give you space and respect on the road. But because so many drivers are distracted nowadays, you can’t trust them to have your safety or even presence in mind when you’re out on Oklahoma’s roads on a motorcycle.
When motorcyclists and their passengers are injured by negligent drivers, we work hard to help them get compensation. If you and someone you love were hurt on your motorcycle by a careless driver, the Oklahoma motorcycle accident lawyers at Parrish DeVaughn want to get you the compensation you deserve. Contact us today for a free consultation.