As parents, we naturally worry about our kids. It’s something that’s just hardwired into us as soon as our children are born, and never, ever leaves. They get into trouble, they hang out with crowds you don’t like, and make rash decisions despite your advice. One of the most common parent’s dilemmas is having a teenager who’s desperate to get a motorcycle. Whether you know a lot or a little about motorcycles, we all know that they’re much more dangerous than driving a car. If you’re a little unsure of where you stand on the whole situation, here’s a brief guide I hope you’ll find helpful.
Just How Dangerous Are Motorcycles?
Many people, regardless of their level of knowledge of experience, perceive riding a motorcycle to be an exceedingly dangerous activity. However, barring a few freak occurrences, motorcycles themselves are generally only as dangerous as the rider. Just like driving a car, if the rider is trained to operate the vehicle safely, they’ll be much safer out on the road. It may help to know that while the danger is inherently higher, there are statistically far fewer motorcycle accidents on the roads each year than car accidents. The biggest factor in making sure your child is safe on their bike is that they develop proper risk awareness. Ask any experienced traffic cop or motorcycle accident lawyer, and they’ll tell you that the overwhelming majority of collisions are caused by a car driver failing to see the bike. Make sure that your teen is aware of this, and that they exercise due caution when merging, pulling out, and dealing with tricky traffic situations.
Set Some Boundaries
As you’ve probably discovered by now, it’s pretty futile to tell a young person to stay away from something that they have their heart set on. You may not be able to keep your child off of a motorcycle indefinitely, but while they’re still living with you, and you’re paying for most of their stuff, you can certainly put a few rules down. For example, you can agree to buy them a motorcycle and pay for the upkeep, provided that they don’t ride it after dark, stay off of highways, and avoid any long journeys. Furthermore, you can exercise a certain degree of control over the bike itself, choosing a model with a small engine size, and various accessories which can make the vehicle safer for the rider, for example, a backrest for riding with passengers. Though it may sound a little Orwellian, you can even get a GPS tracker so that you know for certain that your teenager is sticking to the rules you put down.
Reinforce Good Habits
Seen as you’re a constant presence in your kid’s life, you’re in a pretty good position to reinforce good driving habits. Most importantly of all, you need to make absolutely sure that the freedom of having their motorcycle doesn’t go to their heads. Because teenagers think they know everything there is to know about anything, it’s essential that you stay vigilant from here on, but it’s especially important when they first get their bike. Do everything you can to make sure they’re wearing a reliable helmet and the appropriate safety clothing, and that they’re taking the dangers of riding as seriously as possible. As long as you don’t become too overbearing, getting into a habit of reminding your kid about all the safety issues in riding can be enough to keep them safe on the roads. Remember that one day they’ll fly the nest, and you won’t have this position of influence and authority. With this in mind, it’s generally much better to let them start riding a motorcycle young rather than being completely hostile to it, and making them want to rebel as soon as they can. When they’re under your roof, you’ll be in a much better position to provide a positive influence, and make sure they’re forming good habits for the future.
Keep them Safe, But Don’t Baby Them
As parents, we naturally think about our children as… well, children! However, if we become overbearing and baby them too much, it can often do more harm than good when it comes to things like them riding a motorcycle. If your teenager is legally old enough to ride a motorcycle unaccompanied, then I hate to break it to you, but they’re not a child anymore. They’re a young adult. By treating them as a young adult, even if they’re still acting like a kid in a grown-up body, is important for building trust between you two, and strengthening your overall relationship with them. It’s also important to go out of your way to make sure that they respect you when it comes to things like setting boundaries. Being a teenager is tough, and being the parent to one is even tougher. Naturally, you’re not going to see eye-to-eye on various issues, least of all their riding a motorbike. However, if you can soften up a little and reach some kind of compromise with them, both of you can come away from it happy.
One of the most important steps in making sure your teen rides their motorcycle safely is learning about motorcycles yourself. I’m sure you can remember at least one point where your parent or some other authority figure tried to counsel you on something, and you completely disregarded what they were saying once you realized they didn’t know what they were talking about. You can’t truly advise your kid on motorcycling unless you know something about it, so set some time aside to get informed. Read as many blogs as you can get your hands on, and talk to any friends who have been riding for a while.
The thought of your child riding a motorcycle might be terrifying, but if they’ve got their mind set on it it’s going to happen, whether they’re under your roof or not. By following these tips, you’ll be doing everything possible to keep your kid safe on the road, and assuring your own peace of mind.