August 13 2004. The recent tragic death of an eight year old while riding as a pillion passenger on a motorcycle in East Sussex has led to calls for passengers under the age of 16 to be banned from motorcycles.

The MCI believes that calls for legislation is unnecessary given the rarity of deaths among child passengers. Accident statistics show that in 2002 (the most recent year for detailed statistics) no young people aged under 16 were killed while being carried as a passenger on a motorcycles. In the same year 79 child pedestrians, 69 child car passengers and 22 child cyclists were killed. Deaths among child motorcycle passengers are historically extremely low, averaging one or less per year.

On the basis of the risk that different transport modes represent to under 16s, there is a far stronger case for banning children from riding as a passenger in a car, or from using bicycles.

MCI Director of Public Affairs Craig Carey-Clinch said; 'Child deaths as passengers on motorcycles are tragic for all concerned, but fortunately also extremely rare. To legislate against child pillions would be a disproportionate reaction to an isolated, if dreadful, incident. Many young people are carried safety as a passenger on a motorcycle, often for the family concerned it is the sole mode of transport.

'MCI feels that current legislation is adequate. There are no age limits, but child passengers must be able to sit properly on the bike, with their feet firmly resting on the passenger footrests. Properly fitting safety helmets must also be worn. In addition, MCI feels that parental consent is essential and the child concerned should be clearly told how to behave while riding as a passenger.

'In order for any legislation to be equitable, accident statistics show that Government would also have to ban children from riding bicycles - clearly a preposterous proposition. MCI can only feel deep sympathy for the family of the child killed, but feels that the current calls for new laws are out of proportion to the road safety risks which exist.'

Of greater concern is the small number of people aged under 16 who were killed in 2002 while riding a motorcycle or driving a car on public roads. Three young people were killed while riding illegally and three while driving - 16 is the earliest age a rider can gain a provisional riding licence, 17 for car drivers.

Carey-Clinch said; 'Clearly the issue of young people riding and driving illegally on public roads is of concern -- laws against child pillions will not address this issue. Instead MCI wishes to see specific road traffic education become a formalised part of the national curriculum, with young people required to learn about the rights and responsibilities of road use as part of basic life skills education.'