Teen Drivers on Motorcycles, Mopeds and Scooters
January 22, 2009
Many teen drivers today are turning to motorcycles, mopeds and scooters for transportation.
These vehicles cost little to nothing (in the case of electric scooters) for gas, are easy to maneuver and park, and in some states, mopeds and scooters can be legally operated at a younger age than required for passenger vehicles and/or can be legally operated without a driver’s license. But the benefits of these vehicles are offset by the compromise in safety.
Motorcycles, mopeds and scooters are less visible in traffic, and their riders are much more vulnerable to injury in a crash. Riders of these vehicles must take this into account.
Here are some safety tips for riders:
- Make training a priority. Even if a license is not required, for safety’s sake, practice extensively in a variety of road and weather conditions. Learn how to minimize wobbling when accelerating and how to avoid locking the wheels when braking. Ask a seasoned rider for help. If a license is required, make sure to get one – about one-quarter of fatally injured motorcycle riders don’t have a valid license.
- Choose the roads you use carefully. Try not to select those with heavy, fast-moving traffic. Mopeds and scooters are not allowed on some roads.
- Watch for vehicles following you too closely. You have the ability of stopping much more quickly than cars. If you stop quickly in front of a vehicle that is following too closely, you could be run over. Drivers may tailgate a moped or scooter because these vehicles often travel at lower speeds than cars. Use a hand or electric signal well ahead of a stop or turn to give drivers behind you time to slow down.
- All of these vehicles are less stable and less visible than cars, but motorcycles combine this with high-performance capabilities. Don’t overuse the power of the motorcycle and cause a crash. Per mile traveled, the number of deaths on motorcycles is about 26 times the number in cars.
- Weather and road conditions present greater difficulties for you than to the driver of a passenger vehicle. A puddle may hide a hole that jolts a car; the same hidden hole can throw your vehicle out of control. When it rains, reduced traction may make it difficult for you to see and balance and reduce your control of the vehicle. A wind gust could move your vehicle across an entire lane. Gravel roads decrease traction and may cause you to slow down or brake where a car or not. Anticipate these changes whenever possible and begin slowing down early so vehicles behind you will have time to react. Use extra care when crossing railroad tracks. The tires of your vehicle could get caught in the grooves of the crossing, causing you to lose your balance.
- Never carry a passenger unless it is legal and you are comfortable doing so. Passengers change the way you operate your vehicle. If you are inexperienced in transporting a passenger, you may have extra difficulties with balance and control of your vehicle.
- Whether it’s required by law or not, always wear a helmet. Helmets are about 37 percent effective in preventing rider deaths and about 67 percent effective in preventing brain injuries. A rider who isn’t wearing a helmet is 40 percent more likely to suffer a fatal head injury compared with a helmeted rider.
Learn more about how to get your motorcycle learners permit and license today and start your adventures safely!