A motorcycle can be a great way to get around. Not only is a motorcycle just as fast, or faster, than a car, but you’ll use a lot less gas. Not to mention, riding a motorcycle is better for the environment compared to other kinds of vehicles. Unfortunately, that doesn’t mean riding a motorcycle is safer.
There are a lot of things motorcycle drivers have to do to stay safe, but there are also plenty of things passengers need to do to keep themselves and the person driving safe.
Choose a Helmet That Passes Safety Standards
It is important for the driver to wear a helmet, but it’s important for passengers too. Everyone should wear a helmet to stay safe, but the kind of helmet you wear makes a difference.
There’s nothing wrong with looking stylish while riding, but some of the most stylish helmets are also the least protective. “Many riders and passengers purchase novelty helmets that they believe offer them the protection they need to remain safe in an accident.” Unfortunately, they don’t. Instead, Attorney Stewart J. Guss recommends only wearing helmets that have passed the standards set forth by The Department of Transportation (DOT) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Those standards include helmets that:
- Allow for peripheral vision
- Can withstand penetrations without damaging the skull
- Can withstand at least 400G
- Have straps that keep the helmet secure, even when exposed to extreme force
Wear the Right Shoes
Motorcycle boots are the best choice for motorcycle drivers, but what about passengers?
Motorcycle boots are a great option for anyone riding a motorcycle but don’t feel like you have to invest in such expensive footwear if you’re just a passenger. There are other types of footwear that will work when you’re riding on a motorcycle.
The main thing to keep in mind is to wear footwear that covers the entire foot. Avoid slides and flip-flops. Not only is your foot prone to slipping, but you’re also much more likely to experience a scratch, cut, or burn.
The more coverage your foot has, the better. That means tennis shoes will always be a better choice than flats.
You should also choose shoes that allow you to keep your feet secure and stable. Heels are never a good idea, as they can encourage slipping. That’s even the case if you’re wearing heeled boots.
Tie Back Your Hair
Finding hairstyles that are compatible with a motorcycle helmet can be a pain. Although it may seem easier not to put your hair up at all, you could be putting you and the driver in danger.
If you have very long hair, it is undoubtedly going to whip around in the wind. Not only can very long hair obstruct the driver’s vision, it can also distract them when they see it moving around in their peripheral vision.
There’s another reason to tie back your hair—it prevents tangles! Brushing your hair after a motorcycle ride is made much easier if you braid your hair, put it in a low bun, or cover it with a bandana.
Know-How to Ask Them to Stop
There are a lot of hand signals that motorcycle drivers must learn to stay safe on the road. Although passengers don’t have to know many of these hand signals, there are some that are useful to know.
The most useful is a signal that tells the driver that you would like to stop. It is very loud on the road, and because you’re both hopefully wearing helmets, it can be nearly impossible to hear each other’s voices. Agree on a signal you can use while you’re riding to tell the driver that you would like to stop.
Riding a motorcycle as a passenger isn’t a good idea for people who like to have their own space. If you want to stay safe while you’re riding, you have to get cozy with the driver. If you don’t like the idea of sitting so close and wrapping your arms around their waist, you may want to think twice about riding.
Getting cozy also means taking the time to get settled on the bike. If you’re wiggling or shifting your body while you’re riding, trying to get comfortable while you’re on the road, you could distract the driver enough to put yourselves at risk of weaving, running off the road, or getting into an accident.
Start With a Small Trip
There are some amazing motorcycle road trips that you should add to your bucket list. However, tackling one of those trips as a new passenger isn’t a good idea.
If you haven’t had a lot of experience riding as a passenger on a motorcycle, or even if you have had the experience, but haven’t had experience with a particular driver, you should take things slow. Drive around town a few times and get to know each other when you’re on a bike. That way, there aren’t any surprises when you’re speeding down the highway.
Go With the Flow
Driving a motorcycle takes a lot of skill. It includes learning things like how to turn safely, but passengers have some skills to learn too. Most are all about going with the flow.
If you don’t have a lot of experience riding a motorcycle, you may find some things scary that are actually quite normal. For example, when taking a turn, you may find yourself and the driver leaning so close to the road that you feel uncomfortable. It’s important to stay steady and go with the flow of the road so as not to scare your driver into causing an accident.
There are a lot of things drivers do to keep their passengers safe on a motorcycle, but that doesn’t mean passengers are at their mercy. There are a lot of things you can do as a passenger to keep both you and the driver safe on the road too.