With gas prices remaining high, consumers are trading in their automobiles in favor of gas-sipping scooters and mopeds, particularly in urban areas. Scooter sales were up 17% in 2011, and moped sales have experienced a similar rise. The number one reason first-time buyers cited for their purchase: to save money. Mopeds and scooters average between 40 and 100 miles per gallon, which can save consumers hundreds of dollars a year in gas alone. However, there is one major drawback: safety.
If you are considering a scooter as your primary means of transportation, there are some things you need to know.
Some perks to scooters include the relatively low costs to purchase and operate them, their easy maintenance, and their slow depreciation value. However, because of their smaller size, a downside to operating a scooter is that they are hard to see by drivers of motor vehicles, especially in traffic.
The following tips can help you to remain safe while “scootering”
- Wear bright or reflective clothing to maximize your visibility at night.
- Wear a DOT, ANSI, OR Snell-approved helmet which is designed with a hard outer shell and a retention system to protect the head and the brain in a variety of impacts. In 2006, 41% of those killed in crashes were not wearing a helmet.
- If your helmet is not equipped with a face shield, wear goggles or glasses with plastic lenses to protect your eyes against insects, wind, dirt, rocks, or other airborne matter.
- Wear elbow and knee pads.
- Wear slip-resistant shoes, and always avoid wearing sandals, flip-flops, or shoes with laces.
- Ride with the flow of traffic.
- Obey the speed limits and never travel faster than your skill level or faster than the conditions allow.
- Know how to use hand signals and signal well before you make a turn or lane change.
- Use extra caution at intersections, parking lot entrances and exits, and driveways.
- Avoid hitting road hazards, such as sharp bumps and holes in the road surface. These hazards can cause loss of control or damage.
- Be especially conscious of traffic from behind.
- Do not operate your scooter at night. The scooter is not equipped for ideal visibility in the dark or low light conditions. It may not be easily seen by cars, pedestrians, or other scooters.
- If you ride at night, make sure you have a safety headlight for your scooter.
- Ride only on smooth hard surfaces. Motor scooters are not designed to be used in off road conditions. Use caution when rolling over obstacles.
- Avoid gravel or uneven roads. Do not allow the motorized scooter to be used in the rain, nor to be driven through puddles of water. The motor, batteries and controls can be damaged if exposed to water.
- The scooter should be used by only one person at a time. Do not carry additional persons or items while riding. Do not put additional loads on the motor scooter by pulling or towing anything.
- Scooters must have a seat for highway use.
- Park so you do not block sidewalks, handicap and building accesses, or emergency drives.
- Check all joints, hinges and quick releases to ensure the scooter is properly assembled. Stop using the scooter immediately if any joint, hinge, or quick release becomes loose.
- Maintain proper air pressure in the tires. Low air pressure induces extra rolling friction, reduces ground clearance, and wears the tires more quickly.
- If the brake lever touches the handlebar grip, stop using the scooter until the lever is adjusted.
Don’t forget that mopeds and scooters are not the same. Scooters, like those made by Vespa and Buddy, have different motor vehicle regulations and safety issues than their cousin the moped. Be sure to check with your state to learn which regulations and licensing requirements apply to the model you are considering.
If you or a loved one has been injured on a scooter and you think you may need an attorney, please call us at 866-388-1307 for a free consultation.