Virginia: Scooters on road to tragedy

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Virginia: Scooters on road to tragedy

Postby Micronaut » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:25 am

Are scooter riders on road to tragedy?
http://www.suffolknewsherald.com/articl ... /news1.txt

By Ashley McKnight-Taylor
Thursday, June 22, 2006 4:45 PM CDT

Anyone who spends even a little time in the area of East Washington Street likely is fast becoming familiar with colorful little motorized bikes zipping around with the rest of traffic.

Even more likely, the operators are teens with an extra passenger on the back. They’re typically wearing helmets, but often the safety gear is perched on top of their heads, rather than pulled completely down.
The little modes of transport are mopeds, and they seem to be the way to get around this summer.

Iesha Holliman, 13, said the moped is great because she can ride instead of walk. She said they are popular and many people in her neighborhood have one.

Of the group she was hanging around with Wednesday afternoon, two other youngsters said they owned mopeds and one had a mini Ninja.

Lt. Debbie J. George, spokesperson for the Suffolk Police Department, said officials saw mopeds rise in popularity a couple of years ago. Police do receive a steady amount of complaints about the little vehicles, she said. Most are because of the noise, but some are about kids playing in the street or not wearing safety gear.

Holliman said she rides around the city streets, but never leaves Suffolk. She always wears a helmet and “I follow all the rules,” she said.

As for the rules, George said the scooters, mopeds and other similar motorized devices fall under the state’s moped code.

According to the Department of Motor Vehicles Web site, www.dmv.virginia.gov/, it is against the law for people under 16 to drive mopeds on highways and public vehicular areas. Moped riders must carry some form of identification that includes name, address, and date of birth.

They do not need a driver’s license to operate a moped, but people who have been declared a habitual offender or had their license suspended or revoked for driving under the influence cannot drive one.

Moped drivers are required to abide by the same traffic laws and regulations as automobile drivers, and all DUI laws apply to mopeds operated on public highways.

The state code allows local jurisdictions to be more restrictive, and the City of Suffolk requires drivers to wear helmets and eyewear, George said.

Underage moped drivers will receive a ticket, and parents are responsible for ensuring it gets paid, she said. Drivers of legal age are subject to all the same types of penalties as automobile drivers for violating traffic laws.

Police make an effort to distribute fliers at schools and post information on the cable access channels regarding the rules for riding mopeds. Many parents buy them for their 12- and 13-year-old children, not knowing they must be 16 to drive them, George said.

That hasn’t seemed to stop younger teens from operating them, though. Of the 8 teens riding or driving mopeds the News-Herald talked to this week, only one was of age n and he was just a passenger.

Wesley Green, 15, was riding his moped around Wednesday afternoon with Brian Johnson, 15, as a passenger. Green has had his moped for two years.

“They get me where I need to go and it’s fun,” he said.

His friend, Tyrone Clemons, 15, has a $2,800 Yamaha. Both bikes can reach about 55 to 60 mph, but the boys mainly just ride around town, they said.

Green says he always wears his helmet, but admits to weaving in and out of traffic sometimes if he is in a hurry. But for the most part, automobile drivers never honk or give them a hard time, he said. And the police tend to leave them alone as long as they have helmets on, he added.

George says officers do work to educate children and their parents about safety and the necessity of helmets and eyewear. She added there have been accidents involving mopeds, some of them serious, although none so far this summer.

ashley.taylor@suffolknewsherald.com

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re: Virginia: Scooters on road to tragedy

Postby steamboat » Fri Jun 23, 2006 6:52 am

Seats must be at least 24 inches high. This may get rid of somecrotch rockets. IMO Jim.
http://leg1.state.va.us/cgi-bin/legp504 ... &val=hb366
04/04/06 Governor: Approved by Governor-Chapter 538 (effective 7/1/06
§ 46.2-100.
"Moped" means every vehicle that travels on not more than three wheels in contact with the ground that has (i) a seat that is no less than 24 inches in height, measured from the middle of the seat perpendicular to the ground and (ii)gasoline, electric, or hybrid motor that displaces less than 50 cubic centimeters. For purposes of Chapter 8 (§ 46.2-800 et seq.) of this title, a moped shall be a vehicle while operated on a highway.
steamboat
 


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