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Scooters & Safety

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Spend any time driving the streets and you will most likely see at least one scooter sharing the road with you. Common and popular in cities around the country (and world), scooters are an inexpensive alternative form of transportation - small, light, and economical. For individuals who choose not to take on the expense of an automobile, with maintenance, insurance, and fuel costs, a scooter is an appealing option.

But the differences between scooters and automobiles are the main reason that scooter riders must exercise caution when sharing the road. A scooter does not have the advantages of a "crumple zone" or airbags or seat belts - all standard features on automobiles. Never forget that an automobile is bigger, faster, and more powerful than most scooters out on the road.

Though the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) does not separate scooters from the larger and more powerful motorcycles in its fatality reports, the statistics are significant: motorcyclists are 26 times more likely than automobile passengers to die in a traffic crash.

What is a Scooter?

The United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) defines a scooter as a motorcycle that has a platform or footrest for the operator's feet, and a step-through architecture. Typically a scooter's engine is beneath and to the rear of the operator, and the operator is in a perpendicular position to the seat.

Scooter Safety Starts With the Driver

Because a scooter doesn't have the built-in protections that an automobile has, scooter operators have a greater responsibility to travel safely.The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) has developed a system designed to assist riders in becoming safer on the road, regardless if they're riding a scooter or a more powerful motorcycle. MSF's SEE system encourages motorcyclists and scooter riders to develop a heightened awareness while riding, helping them to respond to potentially dangerous situations on the road. The SEE acronym indicates the three steps of this system: Search, Evaluate, and Execute.

Search - a consistent and constant scanning of the roadway and traffic
Evaluate - assess conditions with an eye toward the worst case scenario
Execute - take appropriate action if needed

Scooter Safety Equipment

Safe scootering is more than mental preparedness, however. It also takes proper protective equipment and adherence to traffic rules. This includes:

Helmet - Probably the most important piece of equipment you'll need to protect yourself on a scooter. The most devastating and difficult injury to recover from is a Traumatic Brain Injury, and a helmet can help to mitigate that risk. Do your research and purchase the right helmet for your needs.

Protective gear - In addition to a helmet, you'll want to protect the rest of your body with goggles or shatterproof sunglasses, a riding jacket, pants, and proper footwear. All of this gear will help to protect your body from a serious case of road rash (or worse) if you're involved in an accident.

Visibility - "I didn't see him" is a common statement given to law enforcement officers investigating an accident. Making yourself visible through the use of bright colors and reflective materials helps to increase your safety on the road.

Rules of the road - Even though a scooter is smaller and lighter than most other vehicles on the road, riders must abide by the same traffic rules as everyone else. This means proper use of directional signals, controlling your speed, and using road lanes as they are designed to be used.

You'll see many scooter riders flaunting many of these guidelines, but understand that they are doing it at their own risk. An unprotected rider who doesn't make himself visible to other vehicles is often the one who doesn't walk away from an accident.

If you ride a scooter, be aware that the laws for scooter riders.  Under the law, all scooter operators must register their vehicle and purchase a license plate, but there are some differences in operator and insurance requirements based on engine size.  Check with your insurance agent or the DMV to find out what coverage you may need.   Also remember that police can track a registered scooter more easily when it is stolen if it has a license. 

If you or a loved one have been injured, call our offices.   For over 40 years, we have helped people across Wisconsin get the compensation they deserve.  With personalized attention and unparalleled experience, let us help you in your time of need.