Kokomo Tribune; Kokomo, Indiana

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Opinion

August 14, 2013

Scooter issue sparks debate for new laws

The issue: Scooters are largely unregulated in Indiana.

Their view: Indiana legislators need to take a serious look at scooter laws in 2014.

 

Momentum is building to improve the laws regulating scooters in Indiana.

Three state legislators from the Evansville area — representing both political parties — have launched a petition drive with a simple statement: “I think the state and local laws regarding scooters should be updated for the safety of those who use our roadways.”

The legislators issued a statement saying Indiana suffers from “a glaring lack of laws covering these vehicles.”

Their statement continues: “… we feel the time is now to start building a consensus for legislation that covers registration, licensing, safety training and insurance for motorized scooters.”

Under current rules, no license or insurance is required to operate a scooter, but riders must be at least 15 years old and possess either a driver’s license or state-issued identification card. Riders under age 18 are required to wear helmets and eye protection.

Giving urgency to the push for better rules, state statistics show the number of accidents involving scooters across Indiana has increased from 310 in 2004 to 1,177 in 2012.

Evansville police, who are supporting the campaign for better laws, have kept statistics illustrating the problems with scooters.

In 2008, the southwest Indiana city saw nine accidents involving scooters. In 2012, the number grew to 90 scooter-related accidents. Scooter drivers were responsible for 52 of those accidents, and none of them had insurance. Only three of them had valid driver’s licenses.

Of the 90 scooter drivers involved in accidents in Evansville, 32 had their driver’s licenses suspended — and 22 of them had multiple license suspensions.

Many of the people on scooters are riding them because they are not allowed to drive automobiles. Requiring a driver’s license to operate a scooter could take a large share of scooter riders off the roads. That may be why efforts to regulate scooters at the state level died in the Legislature in 2012 and last winter.

Scooter supporters say dangerous operators make up a tiny percentage of the estimated 50,000 scooter riders. They add scooters allow people who have lost their driving privileges to keep their jobs until they are reinstated.

However, a law requiring registration would not prevent anyone from riding a scooter. It might help solve some scooter thefts, which have quadrupled in recent years, according to Evansville’s statistics.

Insurance also would be a reasonable requirement. The scooter rider may be at the greatest risk in a collision, but other people and vehicles can be harmed, too.

We hope Indiana legislators will take a serious look at scooter laws in 2014, and that the effort to reform those laws won’t run out of gas.

— The News Sun, Kendallville

 

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