Eco-friendly scooters still pose safety risk

By By Steven Warrick

By Steven Warrick

Motor scooters have become extremely popular recently. Scooters have a lot to offer college students, being both economical and handy.

Roy Davis, manager of Vespa Scooters of Salt Lake City said this is because scooters are compact with a low center of gravity and small diameter wheels, which makes them easy to handle. They have internal storage, which also makes them very handy for short hops. Their step-through frames, leg shields and enclosed mechanics also make them neat and convenient to use for people who are dressed up, he said.

Unfortunately, a lot of people don’t understand just how dangerous it can be to ride a scooter. Kevin Smith, sales manager of BMW Triumph Motorcycles of Salt Lake City, said too many people are driving scooters like bicycles. This is not surprising because scooters, unlike motorcycles, tend to be small, quiet and distinctly non-threatening in their appearance. As a result, some people go out on scooters without sufficient training, proper protective gear or an adequate understanding of their absolute vulnerability to four-wheeled traffic.

“It doesn’t matter what you are riding, if you get into a collision, the car is going to win,” Smith said.

Scooter riders should remember when they are on two wheels, their only real defense is accident avoidance and, in this respect, scooters are even more dangerous than motorcycles.

Although it sounds counter intuitive, motorcycles do have an advantage in accident avoidance.

Chris Curnen, a Motorcycle Safety Foundation rider coach for Salt Lake Motorsports, owns both a motorcycle and a scooter. While he likes his scooter, he said it does not have “the brakes or acceleration to get out of trouble” as a motorcycle does. Of course, the extra power can make a motorcycle more dangerous if it is ridden foolishly.

In the same environment, at equal speeds, a scooter is actually more, not less, dangerous than a motorcycle. This isn’t to say that people should not get scooters. They have other advantages such as lower fuel intake. However, if people do get scooters, they should treat them with the same respect and use them with the same caution as they would a bullet bike or a Harley.

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Steve Warrick