As gas prices continue rising, millions of Americans are looking for gas-friendly modes of transportation. One such option is a scooter or moped. Since these vehicles use little gas and relatively inexpensive, commuters are able to manage their budgets and transportation costs, whether it be commuting to work or running errands. In 1998, scooter sales rose more than 65%. Sales of the Vespa scooter skyrocketed. That was decades ago, but these vehicles remain popular, particularly in a place like Portland, where parking spaces are few, traffic is frequently gridlocked and people try to be eco-friendly. With the overall traffic and number of vehicles on the road continually increasing, scooter use and scooter accidents are also, unfortunately, on the rise.
Just like motorcycle and bike collisions, scooter and moped versus car incidents are usually due to the driver of the car’s failure to see the scooter. There is a prejudice against these alternative vehicles and many people, including law enforcement and insurance adjusters, assume the scooter driver is to blame in such an accident. If you were injured on your scooter or moped in a collision, it is best to not give a statement to the insurance company, even though the insurance adjuster it is required. You should consult with a qualified personal injury attorney to be sure the insurance company does not try to take advantage of you or convince you to accept their low initial offer. Scooters and mopeds are certainly efficient modes of transportation, but they do not protect the rider like a traditional vehicle. Despite common thinking, scooters are not slow by design.
It is typical now for Vespas and other scooters to be capable of speeds of 70 miles per hour without modification. Helmet use can reduce traumatic brain injuries, but are still often insufficient to prevent serious physical injury, including spinal cord injuries, fractures and road rash. Given the size and weight differential between a car or truck and a scooter, as well as the speeds involved in any collision, it is almost always the scooter operator who suffers.
Scooter rides are subject to all the same motor vehicle laws as drivers of cars and motorcycles. In fact, Oregon laws classify a scooter capable of going more than 30 miles per hour or having an engine larger than 50 cubic centimeters as a motorcycle. Anything smaller or slower is either a moped, an electric assisted bicycle, an electric personal mobility device (Segway) or a motor-assisted scooter (Rascal). Oregon, along with all other states, requires that if a motor vehicle is designed for use on public roads, it needs to be titled and registered. That includes mounting a license plate or plates and paying the registration fee. Also, the rider must have a driver license or instruction permit. For some vehicles, such as motorcycles, the driver also must have an endorsement on their license.