While most people prefer motorcycles for their two-wheeled daily commutes, scooters are a good choice especially if you want to get something smaller. You can even take a look at some of the new street legal electric scooters for adults as they are becoming quite popular these days.
Yet, despite the rising popularity of this method of transportation, there’s one important question that many people have on their mind: are scooters safe? This is exactly what we seek to explore and find out in the informative article below.
Scooters vs. motorcycles
While for most people scooters are just small motorcycles, and in some respects that can be considered true, the reality is far more complicated. For starters, motorcycles are much harder to learn to ride and they have larger engines and higher top speeds. Scooters, on the other hand, are more fuel efficient, have better maneuverability and are cheaper.
Scooters tend to have engines that start at 50cc and go up in size to 850cc. A scooter also has a step-through frame with an area where the rider can rest the feet, but most models nowadays are shaped like a platform instead of foot pegs, in a very similar fashion to that of the design of the traditional motorcycle.
Apart from these, there are other additional differences that are quite subtle such as the fact that scooters have smaller wheels, transmission, storage space, and the traditional front bodywork that most motorcycles don’t have. All these specs play a role in the safety that the vehicle provides.
How safe are scooters?
It is true that scooters are typically significantly lighter, have a smaller engine, and come smaller in size which can make many people believe that these specifications make them safer to take on the road. However, scooters are still considered to be dangerous even if they are not as heavy or as fast as motorcycles.
The slower speed of the scooter does not mean that you will be at a lower risk when riding since speed does not correlate with lower accident risk. A surprising fact that many studies have revealed is that more speeding-related traffic fatalities occur on 35 mph or lower roads, the same places where lower powered scooters can ride, than on over 55 mph interstates.
There is also the fact that in many states two-wheeled vehicles that have an engine of 50cc and under do not require a motorcycle license, while anything over 50cc does. This means that many scooter riders are not as experienced, and may not have any reason to take a course on how to ride safely, as only a standard state license is needed.
Furthermore, since as mentioned above, scooters are very cheap to purchase, especially those that meet the 50cc criteria, people can ride through traffic unprepared. Another aspect that can make scooters less safe than cars is the weather and environment conditions such as wind, blinding sunshine or rain.
You are also very likely to ride through some roads that are riddled with potholes and you will also have to navigate through the traffic that is filled with larger vehicles. Scooters have smaller wheels that are more susceptible to react to the small hazards in the road such as debris, bumps, and potholes.
When riding a scooter you will need to make sure that you are always visible, since even if you are riding by the rules, you are the mercy of other drivers that are in a car or truck. Other motorists can easily miss you and not recognize a scooter and the rider that lies in their path on the road.
Additionally, since scooters are still not seen widely as a true commuter vehicle, many riders tend not to wear all the safety gear they need while riding, especially when compared to a normal motorcyclist.
With all that said, as long as you know what you are doing and you’re taking all the necessary safety precautions, riding a scooter should be safe. You should not expect the same level of safety or protection as what you can get from a car, but as a comparison with a motorcycle, scooters offer a similar level of protection.
As mentioned above, there are inherent risks involved when riding a scooter, but that is the case with almost any means of transportation. Here we will present some of the safety tips you can follow if you want to learn how to ride safely on your scooter.
The most important aspect before riding your scooter is to make sure you have all the protective gear, and while it may seem like a no-brainer, there are many riders who ignore this altogether and many injuries can be prevented by following this easy step.
You will need to get a helmet, proper pants, jacket, and even some protective footwear. Make sure that the garments you purchase are waterproof since you never know what you can encounter in your trips and the scooter offers no protection against the elements.
If for whatever reason you need to limit yourself to just one piece of safety gear, that item should be the helmet as you should never ride without it. Your head is the part of your body that needs the most protection while riding a two-wheeled vehicle.
Since the scooter is very small in size and it does offer the best visibility, you need to learn to ride with a plan in mind for safety. It is crucial to learn how to ride defensively, either by taking classes or by gaining experience on the road.
You need to learn how to be aware of what is around you and how to predict what the other motorists are going to do. If, for example, a car turns in front of you, drives too close, or changes into your lane, you need to be ready to change course quickly and stay safe. You are the only and best defense against other motorists.
Visibility is a huge disadvantage when riding this type of vehicle since other drivers can have a hard time spotting you even during the day, which is why it is important to wear bright colors that can help you stand out in the traffic. Retro-reflective clothing is also a must, especially at night when you can be even more difficult to spot.
One final advice is to try and always ride within the limits of your own skills and the ability of your scooter in mind. Scooters are mostly for city street transportation if they are not capable of higher speeds. If your scooter is only capable of reaching speeds of 40-50 miles per hour, you should not venture with it on highways.
It is also best to avoid routes that make you feel uncomfortable or unsafe, even if you risk arriving at your destination a few minutes later.
All things considered, scooters are two-wheeled vehicles that should be ridden with caution, but that should not discourage you from getting on the road on one. As long as you are prepared and follow the traffic laws, you should be more than safe.