Tips to Help You Stay Safe While Riding a Scooter
Using a scooter can be a great way to get around town. But, as with any other means of transportation, safety should come first. Whether you commute to work on a scooter, or simply use it for joy rides, here are some scooter safety tips to keep in mind.
Wear a Helmet
Wearing a helmet can help protect your head if you get into an accident. However, not every state requires you to wear one. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, motorcycle and scooter helmet laws vary by state. Some states have no helmet laws, while others only address certain segments of riders (such as those under 18 years old). Some states have laws that make helmets mandatory for all riders. Helmet laws may also vary based on the size and power of your scooter’s engine. Whether or not it’s required by your state, it’s a good idea to wear a helmet at all times.
When purchasing a helmet, make sure it meets the Department of Transportation (DOT) safety ratings. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) states that helmets meeting these standards will have a “DOT” sticker on the back. You should also wear a helmet that fits properly, says the NHTSA. Helmets come in different shapes and sizes to help riders find the appropriate fit, so be sure to measure your head and choose one that’s the proper size and shape for you.
Buy Protective Gear and Clothing
Unlike cars, scooters do not have a metal cage that can provide you with an added layer of protection in a crash. Consider wearing protective gear in case you’re involved in an accident, says Consumer Reports. Make sure to have a protective jacket, gloves and nonslip boots to help protect your body. If the weather will be hot, you may be able to find a specialty jacket that provides protection while helping to keep you cool. You should also consider buying brightly-colored or reflective gear, as this may help other drivers easily spot you on the road, adds Consumer Reports.
Watch for Hazards on the Road
Look out for and avoid safety hazards such as potholes, gravel and oil slicks, says the National Safety Council. You should also take caution when approaching railroad tracks and be sure to cross over them at the proper angle, recommends Consumer Reports.
The correct way to cross railroad tracks is at a perpendicular (or 90-degree) angle, or as close to that as possible, says CycleWorld.com. Slowing down before you cross the tracks, and pressing back on the gas just before you go over them, may also help you maintain steering control.
Pay Attention to the Weather
Rain can diminish visibility and reduce how well tires grip to the road, says Consumer Reports. Be sure to check the forecast before heading out on your scooter, and think twice if there is a chance for rain or thunderstorms. If you do need to ride in the rain, avoid making sudden maneuvers and be gentle while braking, suggests Consumer Reports. If it’s windy, try riding your scooter on the side of the lane where the wind direction is coming from. That way, you have some extra cushion in the lane if a strong gust of wind hits and your scooter moves.
Lock Up Your Scooter
Like any bike, your scooter could be stolen if it’s not locked up properly. According to Motorcycle Cruiser, many scooters and motorcycles have steering locks that make the scooter hard to maneuver when activated. Steering locks that are separate from the ignition are a plus, as that means thieves would need to break through two locks to steal your scooter.
You may also want to invest in a lock that secures your scooter to something solid, such as a U-lock or cable lock. Whatever kind of lock you choose, Motorcycle Cruiser says to keep it from touching the ground when in place, as this may give thieves leverage to break it off.
Insurance helps protect you and your scooter in case of an accident. Consult with your insurance agent to see if your state requires you to buy insurance for your scooter. Some coverages that may be available include liability, collision, comprehensive and uninsured motorist. Depending on the coverages you select, your scooter insurance policy may help pay to repair or replace your scooter after an accident, and may help cover medical bills.
Commuting on a scooter can be a fun way to get around town, but it’s important to practice safety first. Following these tips can help you learn how to safely ride a scooter and be prepared for the fun outings ahead.
Originally published on August 31, 2015.