Motorcycle operators in Texas new to riding may be surprised to learn that carrying a passenger can greatly affect the way the bike handles. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation reports that the weight of the additional rider as well as the person's independent movement both play a role in changing the dynamics of riding. According to the MSF, operators with passengers should do the following to increase motorcycle safety:
- Be prepared to brake sooner and with more pressure.
- Use more throttle when starting from a stopped position.
- Take caution when cornering and turning.
- Recognize the stronger effects of the wind when a passenger is on board.
- Make sure the passenger dismounts the bike first.
The MSF also warns that a passenger may bump the operator with either the helmet or the entire body when the motorcycle comes to a hard stop. As a general rule, passengers should always ride on a designated seat with one leg on each side of the bike.
According to the American Motorcyclist Association, any rider younger than 21 in Texas must wear a helmet. People 21 or older should have proof of either medical insurance coverage or the completion of a rider training course to be exempt from wearing a helmet.
Despite this state law, experts recommend that anyone on board a motorcycle should wear a helmet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that the use of a helmet has consistently reduced the number of injuries and deaths that stem from motorcycle crashes. The CDC notes that between 2008-2010, more than 14,000 cyclists died in a wreck, nearly half of whom were not wearing a helmet.