Mopeds usually feature 50cc motors and legally attain a top speed of 25mph, which means that they are not freeway-legal, as it’s the case with any vehicle with a power of less than 150cc. Scooters that are not electric but engine-powered can be over 150cc, but electric ones that use Swagtron scooter chargers certainly don’t fall in this category.
If you live in a crowded city, then you most probably thought at least once about getting a scooter or moped (that is if you haven’t already bought one). These handy devices are becoming increasingly popular among adults who need to get to work in a timely manner and who don’t want to be stuck in traffic jams every morning.
Of course, scooters and other similar vehicles can be used for leisure purposes as well. There are many people who are using them during weekends while spending quality time with friends or family. It’s also a known fact that two-wheeled vehicles are oftentimes the first taste of freedom that young people (who cannot have a driver’s license or afford a car yet) first get.
That’s why it’s very tempting to take the scooter anywhere the rider might want to go, but if we’re talking about areas that include highways as well, things are not as easy as they might seem. Since these are considered low-speed devices, there are certain restrictions in place in pretty much any state around the United States when it comes to riding them on motorways.
If you are planning to get a scooter or moped, then this article will surely prove to be useful, so you should keep reading to get a better idea of where you can ride a scooter.
Scooters vs. mopeds
The first question you might have is what is actually the difference between these two types of vehicles. When it comes to scooters, the term can be used to describe various devices. Scooters are usually two-wheeled units, with a seat for the rider, that are essentially a lighter and less powerful version of a motorcycle.
However, in recent years, electric scooters have gained a lot of popularity as well, these being powered alternatives to the regular kick-scooters kids are using to play around the park. Of course, e-scooters also come with multiple restrictions when it comes to riding them on highways since the rider’s body is fully exposed and these are low-speed vehicles.
In fact, they are banned from highways in most states and areas. If you want to know what particular regulations apply in your case, then the best approach is to simply talk to the local administration and see what you need to do in order to comply with the law and legally ride your e-scooter on public roads.
There are numerous public conversations around them, and some cities have even banned e-scooters from being used on public streets to protect pedestrians against accidents. However, this is another story, so we won’t go into details.
When it comes to mopeds, these vehicles are usually less powerful than traditional scooters, and they have an interesting story behind. The term “moped” was first used in 1952 by a Swedish journalist to describe a type of vehicles that had both pedals and a motor.
As you can probably tell, mopeds today no longer have any pedals, so the term is not accurate anymore. However, it did stick throughout the decades, so we are still using it. Now that we went over the main differences between these various types of vehicles, it’s important to note that they all come with particular highway regulations in most states.
Highway regulations for scooters and mopeds
Whether a regular scooter (not electric) can be taken out on the highway or not depends on several different factors. The main one is the engine’s power and capacity, and there are two general categories you can take into account, namely the 50cc and the 125 cc ones.
You can technically ride a 50cc scooter on a highway, but in most cases, you need to hold a full license in order to do that. The same rule applies in the case of car drivers, so for someone who is young, this might already be a restriction. It’s true that you can get a full license at the age of 16, but many riders simply use their CBT until it expires, given that these are valid for two years.
On the other hand, a CBT requires riders to display L-plates on the vehicles, and these are not allowed on the highway, so unless you get a full license, you won’t be able to use the scooter on highways. You may also want to consider that 50cc scooters have a top speed of 30mph, which means that there are many risks when riding them on freeways.
Another legal aspect worth knowing is that only scooters 50cc and over can be used on motorways, but many models are actually restricted to only 49cc, which makes them unsuitable. Even though you may be allowed to ride 50cc vehicles on freeways, although this can also depend on the area you live in, the truth is that you should avoid doing that.
When it comes to 125cc scooters, things are very different given the significant power difference. Of course, the same regulations regarding owning a full license apply in this case as well. On the other hand, it’s a fact that these scooters have a much higher speed than 50cc ones. The average is around 68mph, so they are also safer to use on freeways.
The most important aspect, however, is for the rider to have more experience with motorways since these entail very different skills than using local public roads. You should also remember that any type of scooter doesn’t offer the same protection as a car does, so you need to be a lot more cautious to avoid any potential risks.
Powerful scooters need to be insured most of the times, and their riders should have motorcycles licenses. On the other hand, the same rule might not apply in the case of mopeds. Being less powerful, they might not entail either of these two requirements.
You should know that mopeds cannot legally ride faster than 25 mph and they need to be clearly marked with a tag that identifies them as mopeds. Also, riders as young as 14 can get a license to operate such a vehicle, while the same doesn’t apply in the case of scooters (depending on their power as well).
For someone with less experience when it comes to this category, things might not be very clear from a legal point of view. No matter how much research you do online, though, you need to figure out what the law in your state is and, even more importantly, in your city or area. Rules and regulations can differ quite a lot, so contacting local authorities is the way to go.
It doesn’t really help either that oftentimes people use the same language to refer to both types of vehicle. While it’s true that some differences might be more from a legal point of view than from how the unit performs, this aspect matters a lot if you want to stay out of trouble and avoid costly fines.
There is also the problem of riders who don’t realize the danger they are exposing themselves to. According to the authorities, there are many cases in which mopeds are seen driving on the left lane, which is extremely unsafe. This also means that law enforcers need to remain vigilant.
Any rider needs to be aware that the difference in speed between cars and mopeds is what causes many accidents. The high closing speed means that many times drivers don’t even realize that another slower vehicle is there until it’s too late. As you can imagine, the best way to avoid this situation is to avoid riding on freeways, especially since it’s probably also illegal.
Riders should also make themselves as visible as possible (and this applies to any kind of public roads). Wearing brightly-colored clothes and reflective vests is a good idea. Moreover, even if helmets are not legally required in every situation, riders should have them on no matter the circumstances.
When it comes to mopeds and scooters, even riding on small urban streets can sometimes be dangerous, given that riders have very little protection against a car and other larger vehicles.