Tips to help you stay safe while riding a scooter or moped
Last updated: January 1
Motor scooters and mopeds can be a great alternative to a car. But whether you commute to work on a scooter, or simply use it for joy rides, safety should come first.
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. Whether or not it's required by your state, it's a good idea to always wear a helmet.
Buy protective gear and clothing
Unlike cars, scooters and mopeds 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. The better people see you, the less likely they are to run into you, recommends the Motorcycle Safety Foundation in their riding tips. Brightly colored clothing is preferable to drab, dark clothing.
Watch for hazards on the road
Look out for, and avoid, safety hazards such as potholes, gravel and oil slicks. You should also take caution when approaching railroad tracks and be sure to cross over them at the proper angle. 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.
Pay attention to the weather
Rain can diminish visibility and reduce how well tires grip to the road. Be sure to check the forecast before heading out on your scooter or moped and think twice if there is a chance for rain or thunderstorms. If you do need to ride in the rain, take the advice of Cycle World in their five tips for riding in the rain; choose the right gear, ride smoother and smarter, be wary of intersections, watch out for slick surfaces and find a dry line.
Lock up your scooter or moped
Like any bike, your scooter or moped 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 if stolen. 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.
Parking your scooter or moped
Regulations will vary from state to state, and from city to city, so it's important to understand the scooter or moped parking laws in your area. When street parking in Chicago, for instance, the city says you must park perpendicular to the curb. In California, you're also required to have your wheel or fender touching the curb when you park.
It's a good idea to check if you're required to display a city sticker or parking permit. Also check to see whether you need to pay for a public parking spot, and for that matter, where you're legally allowed to park.
When you're parking in a retail or paid lot or a parking garage, many times you'll find that these facilities have specific spots set aside for motorcycles or scooters. One common issue crops up when a scooter parks at the top of a full-sized spot, making it look empty to other drivers attempting to park their vehicles. If you do end up in a full-sized spot, though, you may want to follow the Motorcycle Safety Foundation's suggestion to park toward one side of the space, leaving room for another bike (unless, of course, multiple vehicles are prohibited there).
Do you need motorcycle insurance for your scooter or moped?
Do some research to see if your state requires you to buy insurance. Each state defines and regulates "scooters" a bit differently, often based on engine size according to the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.
Also, some insurance companies cover scooters under motorcycle insurance policies while others write specific scooter insurance policies. Check around to see if insurance is required for your scooter or moped.
In the end, play it safe
However you ride, it makes good sense to be informed, think about your potential impact on other drivers and set a goal of riding safely.