What is a Scooter?
There is a legal definition and a practical definition. Legally speaking, in Florida, any 2 or 3 wheeled vehicle with a 50cc engine or larger will be considered a motorcycle. Anyone who operates a motorcycle must have the motorcycle endorsement on their Florida driver’s license. Conversely, any 2 or 3 wheeled vehicle, with an engine size of less than 50cc, is not considered a motorcycle and does not require a motorcycle endorsement. You still must have a valid driver’s license to operate these scooters / mopeds. In fact, the only type of motorized scooter / moped type vehicle that may be operated without a valid license is an “electric helper motor” bicycle (“DUI Scooters) and in order to qualify as such they cannot exceed 20 MPH and the user still must be 16 years old to operate these bicycles on public streets.
As a practical matter, the smallest motorcycle is generally 250cc. Scooters are generally in the range of 50cc to 250cc, but manufacturers have made scooters with engines as large as 832cc. However, scooters have physical characteristics which separate them from motorcycles. On a scooter the engine is usually placed closer to the rear wheel and the wheels are generally smaller than a motorcycle. The sitting arrangement also differs in that the rider of a scooter is seated as if in a chair with a platform upon which to rest his feet. Scooters also have built in storage whereas most motorcycles require the addition of saddlebags for storage. Scooters are also generally slower and less powerful than their big brothers. These differences make the scooter easier and cheaper to operate in urban settings and less efficient for long distance travel. With advent of larger more powerful scooters the line between scooter and motorcycle has become one of aesthetics.
Scooters’ Popularity in Florida is Growing
Scooters are extremely popular in Florida for several reasons. Florida has an ideal climate in which to operate scooters. It is almost always sunny and warm. There are also 75+ colleges and universities in Florida. College students ride scooters because of their relatively low purchase price, high gas mileage and ease to operate and park in a crowded environment. It is no coincidence that the popularity of scooters, with ownership rates experiencing a 60% jump in recent years, coincided with the prices of gas hitting $4.00. On a scooter, the frugal consumer can zip around town and get gas mileage that in some cases exceeds 100 MPG. Scooters also enjoy tremendous popularity in Florida beach communities with tourists and locals, alike.
Scooters are Inherently Vulnerable on the Roadways
Scooters have several characteristics that make them more vulnerable than a motorcycle on the roads. Scooters typically are smaller and slower than motorcycles. Their smaller size makes them more difficult for drivers of cars to see. Scooters are especially vulnerable when traveling in a car’s blind spot. The lack of speed and power causes drivers to misjudge the scooter’s speed. It also renders the scooter operator less able to take evasive action when confronted with dangerous situation. Studies indicate that 90% of scooter riders/passengers who are involved in an accident suffer injuries, including:
2. Concussions and other traumatic brain injuries;
3. Fractured or broken bones;
4. Spinal cord damage;
5. Neck and back injuries;
6. Road rash; and
7. Lacerations and contusions which may have been caused by either the air bags or contact with the actual components of the vehicle.
Scooter Safety Tips
Because scooters are at an inherent disadvantage on the roads, their riders must be extra vigilant. Here are a few safety tips that all scooter riders should follow:
1. Scooters can be “invisible” to drivers, therefore, riders should ride defensively;
2. Constantly scan the road ahead and intersections for possible interactions with cars;
3. Check the rearview mirror often for traffic approaching from the rear;
4. Wear bright or reflective clothing;
5. Take a motorcycle / scooter safety class;
6. Be aware of the road conditions. If it is wet you will need to adjust accordingly. Also, hazards such as potholes or debris in the road can be very dangerous when riding a scooter;
7. Insure your scooter and obtain uninsured motorist coverage; and
8. Wear a helmet! Do your research before purchasing a helmet. The temptation to buy the cheapest helmet on the market can be great, but remember the old ad slogan, “If you’ve got a $10 head, wear a $10 helmet.”
Contact Jones Law Group
Have you or a loved one been injured in an accident? Contact an experienced St. Petersburg personal injury attorney at Jones Law Group today. When you contact our office we will immediately set an appointment where you will meet your attorney and be provided with his/her personal contact information. If you do not have transportation or you cannot drive, your attorney will travel to meet you and discuss your case with you in the privacy of your own home.
Whether you were a pedestrian, a bicyclist, or the occupant of car, motorcycle or boat and have been injured in an accident, you should immediately call an experienced personal injury attorney in St. Petersburg at Jones Law Group at (727) 571-1333 during regular business hours or (727) 753-8657 on weekends or after regular business hours. We will evaluate your case for free and you will never pay us a dime unless we recover compensation for your injuries.
Jones Law Group
5622 Central Avenue
St. Pete, FL 33707