I'd prefer my son doesn't get his motorbike licence because I think it is dangerous. How can I convince him otherwise?

Note: He's 18 years old, but still living at home.

  • 11
    I think instead of convincing him otherwise, you should help him do so in the safest way.
    – Bobo
    Commented Nov 26, 2014 at 23:13
  • @MiloB At this point your son is an adult and responsible for his own actions. The only thing you can do is influence him the same way you would any other adult, which is a different subject. I suggest reading 'How to win friends and influence people' by Dale Carnegie.
    – dwjohnston
    Commented May 22, 2015 at 3:31
  • Make sure he has a good helmet and leather gear. And that he doesn't drive without them. In that regard you can really put your foot down.
    – gnasher729
    Commented May 2, 2018 at 19:36
  • My two cents: It's not dangerous. Riding a car is far more dangerous. Commented Jan 31, 2021 at 6:20

6 Answers 6


I'm assuming that you have no actual say in the matter because he has some degree of independence. You are right in that riding a motorbike does put you at more risk of an injury accident (if you want to know what types of injuries, this article covers them off: http://www.driverknowledgetests.com/resources/common-injuries-motorbike-riders-suffer/).

Unfortunately, our brains don't finish developing until we're in our late '20s and that causes us to take risks. There's also the excitement and freedom of owning a motorbike; a certain rebellion that's taking place. Your son will know it is dangerous and that you don't like it, but he probably can't internalise the risks in relation to him, i.e. he could be confident nothing bad will happen to him. He may be trying to assert his independence from you through this.

So, in terms of convincing him otherwise the questions you need to ask yourself are:

  1. Is there any way of offering him something better? E.g. can you help him into a car learner licence rather than a motorbike learner licence.
  2. Are there any rational arguments you can propose which would have a greater meaning to him. E.g. if he doesn't get a motorbike licence then you will help pay for a gap year
  3. Is there a friend or relative that you know who has access to someone who has been injured badly in a motorbike accident?
  4. Is there anything your son does where a motorbike would be way less convenient than a car, e.g. a certain hobby, or you live in an area where it rains a lot?
  5. If your son has a girlfriend or boyfriend, are they going to want to ride on the back of a motorbike (even when it's raining)?

If they don't work you can try the scaring approach (information about injury risks, etc), or you can try to get him to empathise with your feelings about the situation.

If there really is no chance of changing his mind then the best resource to check out is Transport for NSW's Ride to Live website here http://ridetolive.nsw.gov.au/. Make sure he gets proper instruction from a good driving instructor and make sure he purchases proper safety equipment - no riding in t-shirt and shorts because tarmac will shred his skin like a cheese grater if he comes off.

  • 2
    I don't agree with a "scaring" approach, which is likely to be perceived as overprotective parent silliness. Many countries have similar "safe riders" courses which will provide an impartial perspective on the dangers as all as ways to prevent or mitigate the dangers, so I would go with a class before a lecture about safety. Otherwise an excellent overview of the options!
    – Acire
    Commented Nov 27, 2014 at 17:00

The most important thing to bear in mind here is that he's 18- he's not obligated to do what you want in any way, shape or form. Sure, you may not like that he wants to get a motorcycle, presumably because you're concerned about the risks involved rather than anything else.

Ultimately though, this is his decision- you shouldn't be trying to discourage him, but enable him to make the best, educated decision possible under the circumstances. You're his parent, not his master.

It's your responsibility to help him, guide him and educate him if he'll listen, not to make that choice for him.

I can speak from experience- I started off by getting a CBT and riding a Moped, exchanging that for a 125cc Motorcycle after about a year, before progressing after several years to getting a drivers license and using a car. I enjoyed all three, with only one incident of coming off my 125cc which was entirely down to bad weather and loss of control on leaves. Do I regret riding it at all? No. Did I get injured? Not badly enough to visit a hospital.

If he decides that a Motorcycle is what he wants, despite you showing him the facts (i.e Motorcyclists have more fatalities, are generally injured more frequently in collisions/accidents, weather is a larger factor when riding etc) then the best you can do is encourage him to ride safely.

When he goes to his Motorcycle training sessions, the trainers do actually know their stuff, they will recommend you to attend extra sessions if they think that's what you need and they won't put you in for a test if they don't think you're ready. You need to also actually pass the tests as well, so he won't be thrown on the road like a loose cannon- they need to be confident that he can ride correctly.

Also, in the UK, for example, after passing your two Motorcycle tests to hold a full license, you can attend an extra session or two which cover in further detail other helpful tips and tricks when on the road. They also cover how to cope with different weather as well as going more in-depth with techniques for braking etc to make you an even safer rider (as well as lowering your insurance premiums from some insurers!).

I enjoy driving, I enjoy Motorcycling- it's only fair to let him make the choice himself as one day he may change his mind himself, so let him do that. Once he does get on a bike, he could find that it's really not for him and take it no further than getting the license, or just a few lessons- you simply don't know. On the other hand, he could really enjoy it- but you can't determine how safe, good or bad a rider he'll be- that's down to him.

There's a lot of people out there that drive horrendously, just as there are Motorcyclists, each of whom are responsible for us basing our opinions on the other- for my part, both sides can be complete idiots- but then so can pedestrians and cyclists. Provided that he's passed and has his license- he can do the best he can and you can only support him in his decision where you can.

As a thought, you could even attend the lessons he takes, as traditionally the first several sessions tend to occur on a contained, isolated track and not on the road, until the instructor is confident that you're safe to go on the road (and yes, they will prevent them going on the road if they aren't. I know, as for my first CBT I had to come back the next day as I wasn't good enough!). That way you can be there to also educate yourself on the subject and perhaps lessen your worries.


My whole family (including me) rides, so I'm pro-having fun on a bike, but I'm right with you on this. Do you have any friends who ride? It would be awesome if you could "require" him, in whatever way makes sense for your relationship, to take the motorcycle safety course available in your area, and to be "sponsored" by an experienced rider. Those two things have done the most that I've seen to improve individual riders' safety, including making sure they're included in a group of riders who maintain a pro-safety attitude.

Oh, and make sure he has to pay for his own insurance--which he absolutely has to have. No question there. If he's in the U.S., at least, he probably won't be able to afford it, even if he can get approved, which is iffy at best.


Do you know the book called "Flow" by Csikszentmihalyi.

People feel flow when they feel the task is challenging and they can do it if they put effort. They say that it is the secret of happiness.

So, your child probably feels that motorcycle gives him flow. You as a parent want to protect him. It is fair enough. But the message he gets that "you are not skillful enough to ride this". So he thinks that you do not trust him enough, you want him to get bored, or undermine his abilities. So, even though you want to protect him, try to find a way that he finds flow in other activities or talk and ask about his skills and how can he implement his skills in other parts of life.


It's late, but here's my opinion.

To be honest, 18 years old is okay and you shouldn't worry much unless your son have some condition. I learned how to drive a car in a country where often streets are narrow, etc when I was in middle school. I never had an accident and I was taught to prioritize safety.


Simple. You can't convince him otherwise if it's something he really wants. You could try to bribe him with "I won't help you buy a bike, but I will a car". That might help. You could try to attach punishment to it ("you can't keep it here!" or "Won't pay for your school if..."), but that is a way to operate that seems guaranteed to damage your relationship. And you can (and should) certainly voice your concerns and let your position be known. The problem is that your son is old enough to be treated as an adult, and we generally don't coerce adults without there being resentment.

Look, my mum hated my motorcycles. But at 17 I was earning enough to buy, maintain, and insure it, and a car an an apartment too - so I had the economic freedom to steer my own life. At that point, its not like she had much say over it and she understood that too. I knew she didn't approve. Lots of aspects of my life she didn't approve of back then. And, in retrospect, she was right on a bunch of them too. But we had a good relationship where we could disagree without it being personal. On bikes, we talked statistics, mortality, the costs (insurance on two wheels was stupidly expensive). But I was feeling cool and manly, and wanted to ride. So I did.

So prepare yourself for NOT talking him out of it, or at least not for long. I don't mean don't try, but you are at that age where your relationship is shifting from parent-child to an adult mentoring one where your advice is still heard and respected but not always heeded. And that's tough on both of you. But by all means - bribery is a good option. "I know you're at the age where you need personal transportation, and I know bikes are cool, but understand that - as your parent - the statistics on bike accidents scare me. Now, the choice is yours, but I'm willing to help you buy a cool car if that will keep you off of two wheels for a while."

Word of warning: if he has friends on bikes - you're probably sunk. Riding is a social activity - and no I don't mean in the "biker gang" sense. But you either ride or you don't, and if you don't then you are cut out of a part of conversations and activities at an age when social acceptance is still a huge deal.

And if it's any consolation, I will hate it if either of my kids want to ride. I will hate it even as I keep my '56 BSA GoldStar out in the shed waiting for me until I'm done paying for my kids college tuitions at which point I will start riding it again. 17 years its been parked, and with spring weather I'm feeling the itch of a long ride up a winding country road. About 10 more years and I can take that ride. I can wait. I have a bit more patience than I did when I was seventeen...

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