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Bagen Law Blog

Back to School Scooter Safety

Posted by Steven A. Bagen

Jan 31, 2015 12:00:00 PM

scootersafetyClass is back in session, and busy students have places to be.  Scooters are a convenient and economical way to travel around campus or around town due to their excellent gas mileage and small profile. This diminutive size makes practicing good scooter safety habits all the more important.
Both new and experienced riders can benefit from refreshing their knowledge of scooter safety techniques, as well as the laws pertaining to their chosen mode of transportation. It can be all too simple to slip into a comfortable routine and neglect the basic safety advice learned as a new rider.  This is one subject of study that can save lives.

Scooter Laws and Regulations 

Florida’s laws include classifications for both mopeds and motorized scooters.  It is important for riders to know which category their vehicle falls in because each classification has different requirements.  Vehicles that exceed the specifications for both mopeds and motorized scooters will be considered motorcycles and will be held to the laws regarding them.

The law considers a moped a vehicle that has the following:

  • A seat for the rider
  • Pedals that allow the rider to propel it
  • A motor with two-brake horsepower or less
  • A top speed of no more than 30 mph on level ground
  • Three wheels or less
  • An engine of 50cc or less
  • An automatic system that doesn’t require the rider to change gears

Scooters have different guidelines for their classification.  A motorized scooter is a vehicle with the following:

  • No seat or saddle for the rider
  • A design for traveling on three wheels or less
  • A maximum speed of 30 mph on level ground

Both of these types of vehicles have quite basic requirements for owning and operating, including a basic, Class E driver’s license, and an inexpensive registration.  Scooters over 50cc, such as the popular Vespa scooter, fall under the same classification as motorcycles.

 Motorcycle requirements are far stricter.. Legally riding a motorcycle in Florida requires a motorcycle endorsement on a rider’s normal license. To obtain a motorcycle endorsement, a rider must complete a written exam about laws and road safety. Also, a driving test on the motorcycle or scooter must also be completed.  Every motorcycle driver must complete a Basic Rider Course.


Required Safety Equipment for Scooter Riders 

The proper equipment might seem like a nicety, but Florida law requires an amount of safety gear to legally ride scooters and motorcycles.  Depending on the type of vehicle, differing levels of protection are necessary. For mopeds and motorized scooters under 50cc, and with a maximum speed of 30mph, no helmet is required for the driver. All passengers under the age of 16, however, must wear one.

Motorcycles and larger scooters over the 50cc cutoff have different requirements.  If the driver is more than 21 years of age, and has proof of medical insurance over $10,000, then a helmet is mandated.  Drivers under 21 must wear an approved helmet.  All motorcycle operators must wear eye protection.


Scooter Safety Tips

Riding a scooter of any variety is about more than just the laws.  It’s also about staying safe while riding.  In our practice we see that, unfortunately, the massive injuries that we see in motorcycle accident cases are often the same injuries we see in scooter accidents. In an accident, the scooter rider is far more vulnerable to injury than the driver of the car. Therefore, practicing good safety plays an even more important role in getting a driver to his or her destination in one piece.  Smart riders realize, it’s not only about their skills, but about compensating for unaware or impaired drivers who may create hazards for all who share the road with them.

  1.   Helmets save lives

As with, scooter accidents can result in massive head injuries.  The laws make provisions for those who choose not to wear a helmet, but physiology does not.  Helmets protect one of the most important parts of the body.  Not only can a helmet prevent fatal head injuries but it also provides eye protection, reduces noise from wind, and keeps debris out of the rider’s face. Riders should make certain their helmets fit properly and meet Department of Transportation standards.

  1.   Protective gear is more than a helmet.

Florida’s pleasant climate tempts riders to do small errands, or even take long trips, wearing little more than a pair of shorts and a short-sleeved shirt.  In an accident, this lack of proper gear could lead to unfortunate injuries. Additional safety gear offers better protection.  Riders should wear goggles, or shatterproof glasses while they ride.  Not only will these prevent debris from damaging eyes, but it will protect the eyes from wind.  Sturdy pants made of a thick material will guard against injuries, as well as a jacket. Wearing gloves both protects the hands against loose stones thrown up by cars in front of the rider, and also provides greater ease of operating the controls.

 Operators of scooters would always wear full shoes, preferably boots which go over the ankle.  A good tread is essential for the times when a rider must put his or her foot down for balance.

  1.   Wear bright colors and high visibility gear.

Seeing other vehicles is half the battle for scooter operators.  The other half is being seen.  Wearing bright colors and reflective strips gives riders an advantage by drawing attention to them. When drivers can see scooter riders, they can better avid collisions.  Scooter operators should also understand vehicle blind spots, and try to stay out of them.

  1.   Signals play an important role in scooter safety, too.

Drivers in other, often larger vehicles need to understand what a scooter driver’s intentions are.  In this way, the vehicles may provide the proper space for turns and lane changes.  For scooters that don’t have blinking signals, hand signals are an excellent tool. 

Despite the best scooter safety practices, accidents may happen.  If you have been involved in a scooter accident, protect yourself and your rights by securing knowledgeable, experienced help.  Contact Steven A. Bagen Law Firm today for expert and dedicated advice at bagenlaw.com.



Topics: Motorcycle Accidents, Serious Accidents & Injuries