Motorcyclist with passenger riding motorcycle in TennesseeIn Tennessee, riders can begin learning to drive a motorcycle at the age of sixteen. Special permits can be awarded to eager fifteen-year-olds as well. However, there is no age minimum to be a passenger on a licensed rider’s motorcycle.

Motorcycle Passenger Laws

Tennessee law doesn’t mandate a minimum age to be a passenger. In other words, as long as the motorcycle and its riders fulfill the following safety requirements, children can legally ride on a motorcycle as long as they’re not controlling it:

  • Seats. When passengers are involved, the motorcycle must have a permanent two-person seat, a permanent additional rear seat, or an attachable sidecar.
  • Position. When passengers are present, all seats must be positioned to face forward, and all riders must face forward with one leg on either side of the motorcycle.
  • View. Passengers, no matter their age, must not be situated in such a way that distracts the operator or obstructs his view.
  • Helmet. Tennessee law requires all riders and passengers to wear helmets, no matter age, experience, or circumstance.
  • Height. Though state law doesn’t mandate an age requirement, it does specify a height requirement. A child under the age of sixteen is allowed to ride as a passenger provided his feet can comfortably reach the motorcycle’s footpegs/footrests. The only exception to this rule is when the child is riding in a sidecar, where footrests are not mandated.  

Violation of any of these requirements, by operator or passenger, can result in a Class C misdemeanor, and result in fines and potential license suspension.

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John Griffith
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Nashville Personal Injury Trial Attorney