Motorcycle Riders: Is it Safe to Have a Passenger?

Riding with their girl on a motorcycle is something many men have on their bucket lists. But how safe is it to have a passenger on the back of your bike? The answer depends on both you and the passenger.

How Safe Are Motorcycles?

Even though bikers are on average more cautious than passenger vehicle drivers, they are more likely to be injured or killed in a traffic collision with a four-wheeler. Motorcycle operators are safer drivers because they are less likely to ride while keeping their eyes glued to a mobile phone and have a wider field of vision than drivers have.

According to the National Highway Safety Administration’s (NHSA) numbers, in 80% of traffic accidents involving a motorcycle, the motorcycle operator is either not at fault or less at fault for the accident than the driver.  

But despite motorcycle drivers being overly cautious while on open roads, they are over 20 times more likely to die and five times more likely to be harmed in an accident than other types of vehicle operators.

So, riding a motorcycle is a risky business per se. But things can get even riskier if the motorcycle driver carries a passenger onboard.

Risks of Having a Passenger Onboard

Having a passenger onboard when riding a motorcycle can up the risk of road accidents, which is why many states have set in place special regulations for carrying passengers. For instance, in some states, motorcycle passengers must wear safety equipment, while in others, motorcycles must have passenger seats and other features to accommodate additional riders.

Why carrying a passenger on a bike riskier than riding solo? A passenger means extra weight on a bike, so having one onboard will affect the way you handle the bike and reduce its independent motion. A passenger might also make sudden moves or move around too much in their seat during a ride, getting your mind off the road.

Passengers are likely to bump into you or hand on to you during emergency stops if they lack the proper training. You will also have to make significant tweaks to the way you stop or accelerate the bike when you have someone in the passenger seat. You may also need to add more pressure when braking when you are not solo riding, and riding downhill can be more complicated.

The extra pressure on the rear tire might change braking procedures as braking distances increase to keep the passenger safe. And last but not least, if you caused a motorcycle crash and the passenger was severely injured, they can sue you to help them cover their medical bills and lost income spurred by the accident.

Keeping Motorcycle Passengers Safe

If you want to carry a person on the back of your motorcycle, you need to be a fairly experienced driver. A passenger means extra weight, but it is more than just heavy cargo. It is a living, breathing human being who can get killed if you don’t know precisely what you are doing. That is why it is highly recommended to gain experience before giving a passenger a ride.

The passenger needs a bit of training too, before going on a ride. They need to know what to do during emergency braking, how to communicate through hand signals with you, and following safety procedures like wrapping their arms around you and keeping their feet on the footrests at all times. A Basic Rider Course will teach them all the necessary skills from the get-go.

Also, as a bike operator, let the passenger adjust to the bike and don’t start to speed until they tell you they feel comfortable if you do it. Also, avoid riding during high winds or doing steep lean angles with an inexperienced passenger on board. Always allow the passenger to get off the bike first and get on the bike last.

If they don’t have a helmet, lend yours. Motorcycle passengers are more likely to be severely injured than bike operators.


Carrying a passenger on the back of your bike can be a safe endeavor if both you and the passenger follow some safety rules. Never have someone onboard if you are inexperienced and if the passenger lacks basic safety training. If a passenger gets injured in a motorcycle accident, they can hold you liable and make you pay dearly for a moment of not paying attention.