Scooter accidents have spiked in South Florida in recent years, as these lightweight motorized vehicles have become increasingly popular. Not quite a bicycle, yet not a motorcycle either, the term “scooter” can apply to a wide range of products, including children’s toys. However, the scooters to which we refer here are motor scooters, which are vehicles with engines that can travel up to 30 mph on public streets. They are similar in nature to mopeds and motorcycles.
At Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner, our Fort Myers scooter accident attorneys are committed to helping those who have been injured. Although many riders assume scooters are safer because their speed can’t rival that of a motorcycle, but lower speeds don’t necessarily equal lesser risk. In fact, speed-related traffic deaths are more likely to occur on a road with a speed limit under 35 mph as compared to one with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher.
Further, because scooters are smaller than motorcycles, riders may be at even higher risk than those on motorcycles because they are less obvious to drivers. They can easily be lost in a driver’s blind spot and they are more vulnerable while changing lanes, moving through intersections and circling parking lots.Motorized Scooters vs. Motor Scooters vs. Mopeds
Motorized scooters without seats or saddles cannot be titled or registered in the state, and they aren’t allowed to be operated on roads, according to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles. These devices are often ridden by children – though they can be dangerous in their own right. They are often powered by electricity.
However, motor scooters – those that do have seats – must be titled and registered to operate on roadways. These are devices that have a seat for the operator, have two wheels, an internal combustion engine with a displacement of 50 cc or less.
Mopeds, meanwhile, require registration, but no title, and can be operated on roadways. These are vehicles that have a seat, pedals that allow propulsion of the vehicle, three wheels or fewer, a motor of two-brake horsepower or less, maximum speed of 30 mph, an automatic power-drive system that does not require the rider to manually change gears and displacement of 50 cc or less for those with an internal combustion engine. Moped drivers must be at least 16 to drive a moped on a public road. Mopeds can’t be ridden on bike paths or foot paths.
Per Chapter 322 of Florida Statutes, anyone who operates a motor vehicle on a highway needs to have a valid license. A motor vehicle is defined as anything self-propelled, but does not include bicycles and “motorized bicycles.” As noted in F.S. 316.003, motorized bicycles are those not capable of self-propulsion, instead propelled by a combination of human power and an electric motor at a speed of not more than 20 mph.
Thus, any vehicle powered by gasoline requires a license, as does a vehicle propelled exclusively by battery. Only those vehicles that fall into the narrow exemptions as provided in the aforementioned statute does not require a license.Moped and Scooter Accidents
Given the increasing popularity of scooters and mopeds in Florida in recent years, the number of accidents involving these vehicles has increased.
One study from 2011, published in the journal Trauma, these vehicles have spiked in popularity by 60 percent in recent years. Study authors identified risk factors between severe and non-severe driver-related injuries in moped and scooter crashes in Florida and to identify risk factors that could be addressed.
The Florida Traffic Crash Records Database identified a total of 5,660 moped and scooter crashes between 2002 and 2008. More than 90 percent of drivers involved in scooter and moped crashes were uninsured, and less than 1 in 5 wore a helmet. Other risk factors for serious injuries included:
- Driving speeds of over 20 mph;
- Driving on a major roadway with 4 or more lanes;
- Poor lighting conditions.
Most traffic infrastructure in the state doesn’t account for the safety of people on mopeds and scooters. This is troubling considering the rising popularity of the devices, both among native residents and tourists.
Even when your insurer does not require you to carry insurance on your scooter or moped, personal injury protection coverage is advised, as is bodily injury liability for any injuries that may be suffered by passengers.
If you are injured in a scooter accident in Fort Myers, our experienced injury attorneys can help you recover damages.
1-800-283-2900 – Associates and Bruce L. Scheiner – Focused on Justice