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Safety Tips for Riding Scooters and Mopeds

By: Cara Hopkins June 19, 2012

There are a lot of great things about scooters. They are much more fuel efficient than cars, less intimidating than a full-on motorcycle, and less tiring than a traditional bike.

With more and more people looking to ditch their gas-guzzlers for something sportier, the variety of scooters and mopeds on the market is steadily growing to include not only the traditional Italian-style models, but a range of motorized bikes.

But, before you zip through the city streets like Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday, make sure you know how to ride safely.

Scooter and Moped Safety Tips

1. Wear a Helmet

Before you register your new ride, you should confirm its technical classification according to the law.

Many states have guidelines distinguishing motorcycles from scooters and mopeds. For example, a vehicle with an engine under 50cc might be considered a moped, while one with greater than 50cc is considered a motorcycle. This is important because many states have mandatory helmet laws for motorcycles, but not for scooters.

Check your state's motorbike guidelines, but understand that regardless of the law, a helmet is your number one way to protect yourself. According to the Centers for Disease Control, helmets prevent 37% of fatalities in motorcycle crashes. When on your scooter or moped, you may not have the engine power of a Harley, but you are just as exposed to traffic and just as vulnerable to accidents.

2. Make Sure You're Visible

Scooter riders have a reputation for style. Why not throw in some extra reflective gear to make absolutely sure that drivers can see you? Without the roaring engine of a "Hog" your moped might not capture drivers' attention.

Avoid blind spots, and remember when following a big truck that if you can't see the driver's mirror, they can't see you.

You may look super cute in your vintage sundress and matching sunglasses, but other drivers are often distracted. The more you can do to stand out, the better.

3. Follow the Rules

Always use your turn signal and check your rearview mirror often.

You may also consider taking a defensive driving course. Everyone can use a refresher on traffic laws, and these courses can often be cited retroactively if you are ever issued a ticket. That means that if you ever get ticketed for speeding, your fine or point penalty might be reduced.

It is especially important for scooter and moped riders to drive defensively because you are less protected than the leather-clad, helmeted motorcyclists on the road.

Do you ride a moped or scooter? What safety tips can you offer other riders?

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