Is your teen asking for a motorcycle license? Iowa law allows teens as young as 14 to obtain a Class M motorcycle license. But many parents wonder whether riding at 14 is really a good idea.

Letting your child ride a motorcycle is big decision. Like cars, motorcycles are dangerous. However, cars have airbags and other features to protect occupants in the event of a crash. Motorcycles don’t. Even experienced riders risk injury from reckless drivers.

However, teens aren’t experienced. Teen drivers have the highest car-accident rate of any age group. Teen motorcyclists are also more likely to be in an accident than older, more experienced riders. There are several reasons why teens are more vulnerable to accidents:

  • Teens are easily distracted.
  • Teens tend to underestimate crash risks.
  • Teens don’t think about hazards, so they don’t notice potential dangers.
  • Teens tend to overestimate their own riding abilities.
  • Teens are susceptible to peer pressure and are more likely to engage in risky or aggressive behavior.
  • Teens may drive while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t let your teen get his motorcycle license. But you should carefully consider your child’s maturity and habits when making this decision.

Five Things to Consider Before Allowing Your Teen to Get an Iowa Motorcycle License

  1. How mature is your child? Some teens can make good decisions at 14. Other children remain immature at the age of 20. You know your child best. Is he ready for the responsibility of a motorcycle?
  2. Is your child a safe driver? Riding a motorcycle is very different from driving a car, but a teen who practices good driving habits is more likely to be careful on a motorcycle. A teen who is a reckless driver is more likely to engage in dangerous habits.
  3. Does your child understand the importance of safety gear? Iowa does not have a helmet law, but safety gear isn’t just about helmets. Your child will also need a leather jacket, gloves, and boots.
  4. Who is paying for the motorcycle and motorcycle upkeep? Your child is more likely to be careful if he has to work for his bike and pay for his own gear and insurance.
  5. Are there riders in the family? Once your child gets his permit, he will only be able to ride with licensed family members or adults over age 25. If your family doesn’t ride, is there a trusted adult who will be able to supervise your teen’s training?

As a parent, you want your teenager to follow his dreams, but you also want to keep him safe. If you decide to allow your child to ride a motorcycle, make sure you discuss the importance of following the rules of the road and responsible driving.

Learn more about motorcycle safety in Hupy and Abraham’s monthly newsletter for riders. Follow the link to the sign up—there is no cost and no obligation.

Jason F. Abraham
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Helping car accident and personal injury victims throughout Wisconsin, Illinois and Iowa since 1993.