Ask A Trooper: Keeping passenger safe on the motorcycle

Published 5:37 pm Friday, May 20, 2022

Getting your Trinity Audio player ready...

By Sgt. Troy Christianson

Question: Can someone with a motorcycle permit have their small dog riding on the motorcycle or would that be considered a passenger? We have already purchased a helmet and leather jacket for this lucky pup! Thank you for your response.

Answer: First of all, where will this dog be seated and how? I see less issues if you are talking about a motorcycle side car or a motorcycle trailer equipped with a kennel. But if you are talking about on the actual motorcycle with you, I don’t think this would be very safe for you or your pet.

Email newsletter signup

If you are going to carry a passenger, there are a few key items to keep in mind:

Equip and Adjust Your Motorcycle

• A passenger seat and footrests are required by law.

• Adjust tire pressure and suspension settings for the additional weight. (Do not exceed weight limitations specified in the owner’s manual.)

• Readjust mirrors.

Passenger Preparation

• Provide protective riding gear: eye protection, a DOT-approved helmet, boots, gloves, long riding pants and a high-visibility motorcycle jacket.

• Passengers under age 18 are required by law to wear a DOT-approved helmet.

• Small children are required by law to be able to reach both footrests with their feet while sitting on the passenger seat.

Getting On and Off the Motorcycle

•Start the engine before the passenger gets on.

•Squeeze the front brake while the passenger gets on or off the bike.

•Passengers should get off the bike before the operator.

Passenger Safety Tips

•Hold operator’s waist or hips, or motorcycle’s passenger hand-holds.

•Keep feet on footrests at all times, including while stopped.

• Keep hands and feet away from hot or moving parts.

• When turning, look over the operator’s shoulder in the direction of the turn.

• Avoid turning around or making sudden moves that might affect operation.

• If crossing an obstacle, rise off the seat keeping your feet on the foot pegs with knees slightly bent and allow legs to absorb the shock upon impact.

Operator Safety Tips

•A passenger will affect handling due to extra weight and independent motion.

  Braking sooner with greater pressure may be necessary.

• Use extra caution in a corner.

• Allow more time and space for passing.

• Be ready to counter the effects of wind.

•Avoid extreme speeds and dramatic lean angles.

You can avoid a ticket — and a crash — if you simply buckle up, drive at safe speeds, pay attention and always drive sober. Help us drive Minnesota Toward Zero Deaths. If you have any questions concerning traffic related laws or issues in Minnesota send your questions to Sgt. Troy Christianson – Minnesota State Patrol at 2900 48th Street NW, Rochester MN 55901-5848. (Or reach him at,