Crashes Involving Scooters and Mopeds in Chesapeake
Crashes involving scooters and mopeds in Chesapeake are not as common as motorcycle accidents. However, riders of scooters and mopeds lack protection from severe injuries and are among the most vulnerable individuals on the road.
The Commonwealth recorded 318 moped wrecks in 2019, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles’ Traffic Crash Facts report. Thirteen riders were killed and 272 suffered injuries, 97 of them serious. Moped crashes comprised just 0.2% of all traffic crashes in the state last year. The statistics offer little solace to those who have lost a family member or suffered critical injuries in a collision with a careless, reckless, distracted, or drunk driver.
This month, a 42-year-old moped rider from Chesapeake died on a Saturday afternoon in the 1500 block of Hoover Avenue. Chesapeake Police said the driver of a 2005 Ford Taurus hit the rider as he turned left onto Buckland Street. The moped rider was traveling northbound on Hoover Avenue.
Police said the Taurus driver fled the accident scene. However, witnesses followed him to a home on Martin Avenue. Police later arrested him and charged him with felony hit-and-run, according to media reports. Tragically, the moped rider did not survive the collision. Medics arrived at the accident scene and pronounced him deceased. Our thoughts are with the rider’s family.
Recent crashes involving scooters and mopeds in Chesapeake and elsewhere in Virginia highlight how car and truck drivers habitually fail to notice motorists on two wheels. Many drivers lookout for other cars when making left turns but seem to have a blind spot when it comes to motorcyclists.
Are Mopeds and Scooters as Dangerous as Motorcycles?
More people die on motorcycles than mopeds and scooters every year in Virginia. In 2019, 89 motorcyclists died in the Commonwealth, a 1.1% increase from the previous year. The death toll could reflect the fact motorcycles are more powerful and can reach greater speeds than mopeds and scooters. However, the raw figures may be skewed because more people ride motorcycles.
Mopeds developed from bicycles with motors. The name means a motorized pedal vehicle. They have a step-through frame and may or may not have pedals. They typically have a 50 cc engine or less and cannot travel faster than 40 mph, the insurer State Farm states on its website. They have become increasingly popular in economic downturns or when gas prices rise.
Although crashes involving mopeds often occur at lower speeds than motorcycle wrecks, some characteristics of mopeds make them risky to ride. They are smaller than motorcycles and other drivers are even less likely to see them. The lack of acceleration inherent in these vehicles means they can often hold up traffic on major highways, causing frustration and even road rage. State law requires that every moped driver operating one of these vehicles must carry a government-issued photo ID. This does not have to be a driver’s license. This means moped riders may be younger and less experienced. Moped riders must wear helmets, a face shield, and safety glasses or goggles unless the moped has a windshield. Virginia law prohibits mopeds on interstates.
Scooters have a foot platform and typically have more powerful engines than moped – up to 250 cc. They can usually reach higher speeds than mopeds, potentially up to 75 mph. Traditional motorized scooters should not be confused with the new generation of e-scooters that are flooding towns and cities and are considerably more flimsy and slower. Scooters often have smaller wheels than motorcycles and may be less stable.
Scooters, motorcycles, and mopeds share one major drawback: the lack of protection for riders. Even low-speed impacts can be fatal for riders if they sustain head injuries. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) noted a 50% increase in moped and scooter fatalities from 2005 to 2009. Riders are vulnerable if they are out in poor weather conditions such as rain, ice, fog, or snow. Visibility can be challenging when riding at night.
No advice can guarantee the safety of a driver or a rider on the roads. However, there are steps you can do to improve your safety on a scooter or a moped.
Safety Tips for Scooter and Moped Riders in Chesapeake
- Be visible. Wear bright, fluorescent clothing to improve your chances of being seen. Always use your lights in dark or wet conditions.
- Wear a helmet. Virginia mandates helmet use for motorcyclists, and scooter and moped riders. Wearing a helmet also improves your chances of surviving a crash. Motorcycle helmets cut the risk of head injury by 69% and reduce the risk of dying in a wreck by 42%, according to Advocates For Highway & Auto Safety. Use a helmet that complies with Department of Transportation standards. Ensure you have a face shield or safety goggles to protect you from the elements.
- Wear protective clothing. Although a helmet is the most important piece of personal protective gear, wearing items such as leather or an abrasion-resistant jacket can protect your body from lacerations if you are thrown onto the road. Gloves protect you from the elements and improve your grip on the handlebars. Sturdy over-the-ankle boots can keep your feet on the pegs and protect you from burns.
- Drive defensively. Look out for drivers who may be about to make a turn in front of you and be prepared to stop. Do not split lanes between traffic.
- Avoid driving in bad weather. Do not go out on the roads if conditions such as heavy rain, snow, or high winds are in the forecast.
- Beware of highway hazards. Dangers such as gravel on the road or potholes that may be little more than an annoyance to drivers can be a death sentence for moped or scooter riders. Avoid poorly maintained roads and be aware of potential hazards as you navigate curves.
- Ride within your scooter or moped’s abilities. Do not try to ride faster than your vehicle allows. It could lead to instability and mechanical problems.
- Avoid Interstates. Mopeds are banned on interstates in Virginia. Avoid other fast-moving highways if possible.
- Stay on the right. It is safer to remain in the right travel lane unless you must move over to turn left.
- Have adequate insurance. Injuries sustained in moped and scooter accidents are often severe. Make sure you have as much insurance coverage as possible and take out uninsured or underinsured motorist coverage in case you are hit by an uninsured driver or someone who leaves the scene.
Crashes involving scooters and mopeds in Chesapeake and elsewhere in Hampton Roads may be serious and leave riders with life-threatening injuries. Please contact our experienced Chesapeake motorcycle injury attorneys as soon as possible if you end up hurt due to the fault of another driver or lose a family member. We fight hard for the rights of riders who are often treated badly by the insurance companies. Call us today.