Child Safety Information and Resources 2019 22-19-57


Child Safety Harness For Motorcycle

Step two is gathering good gear. There are plenty of Snell- and DOT-approved children’s helmets on the market, and many adult models are available in XS and XXS sizes that fit kids. Do not put them in an oversized adult helmet that might fly off in a crash, and help them properly fasten the chinstrap, too.

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When my older child, my son, finally was old enough to sit on some bikes with his feet on the passenger pegs, I began collecting gear. Much of the motorcycle apparel made for kids is aimed at the off-road side of the market. Most of the XXXS helmets on the market are off-road lids, not all of which are D.O.T.-certified. I wanted a full-coverage helmet with a chinbar with real expanded polystyrene (EPS, the hard foam) in the chinbar as well as the rest of the shell. Most importantly, it had to fit snugly, to be sure it would stay put during the violence of a crash. Shoei's VT-J fulfilled those requirements. Even though it was for the off-road market, it provided extensive EPS coverage. Since it had no faceshield, I had to buy some goggles.

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I also researched the matter. I went through our many apparel catalogs looking for helmets and apparel for kids. I talked to helmet makers and looked at kid-size helmets. Most illuminating, I talked to the motorcycle-accident researchers at the Head Protection Research Laboratory, the same folks who conducted the famous Hurt Report about motorcycle-accident causes and countermeasures.

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Motorcycling can be dangerous regardless of age, but if proper precautions are taken, riding with kids can be rich and rewarding for all involved. As our former editor and long-time motorcycle safety advocate Art Friedman once wrote, “If motorcycling is safe enough for parents, it’s safe enough for kids, provided you accommodate their unique needs.”

Once a child has proper gear, you confront a bigger issue. How is the child going to ride? Putting a child in front of you is stupid, for the reasons already discussed. So he or she will sit behind you. That raises the issue of control. A child, especially a small one, can simply fall off. Even an older kid can fall asleep on a longer ride. Mine do, all the time. Any child can be flicked off in a brake-skid-stick situation or just a quick avoidance maneuver. Holding onto the rider can be difficult for small hands and short arms. My research uncovered an alarming number of instances when a child fell or was ejected from a motorcycle that didn't crash, often with horrifying results.

I thought we might get away with well-made denim or other tough generic jacket, but Harley's Kid's Leather Jacket (about $160, see the Kids section of Harley's Motorclothes site) was too cool to pass up. Since my son was scrawny and the jacket started out a bit large, it actually lasted almost five years before my daughter inherited it full-time and, after watching a video of Grease what seems like a few hundred times, turned it into a fashion statement as much as riding apparel. It is a real riding jacket though, with thick leather, heavy-duty stitching and zippers, and zipped cuffs. It makes them comfortable while riding and would provide significant protection if we ever fell.

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