Scooter Power: Time to Evaluate and Regulate

Over the years, several bills have been introduced in an attempt to license and regulate motor scooters on North Carolina public highways.

Many feel they are dangerous and put not only their riders but also other motorists in extreme danger. Some people feel they are not a danger, rather just innocent, cheap transportation for the poor and unfortunate — especially if they have been convicted of driving while impaired and no longer have a driver’s license. 07-09-14-pub-notes.gif

Just as you do not need a license to operate one of these vehicles, you also do not have to have a vehicle registration or insurance, which makes licensed, insured drivers responsible if accidents happen.

The pros and cons of scooters on North Carolina streets and highways will probably be debated for a very long time; however, I do think it is worth revisiting in light of what we are experiencing here locally in Fayetteville and Cumberland County.

North Carolina defines a scooter as a vehicle with less than a 50 cc engine, single geared that accelerates up to a level of 30 miles per hour. Say it ain’t so.

There are not many drivers that I know who have not experienced motor scooters passing them doing 45 mph down Raeford Road.

A couple of years ago, a scooter driver in Wilmington, N.C., was given a citation for doing 57 mph in a 45 mph zone. He also got a DWI.

Speed and irresponsible drivers are not the sole reasons we should look at closer regulation of these vehicles. Within the past few weeks, I have witnessed people riding motor scooters without helmets, shirtless and in flip flops, exceeding the legal speed limit, cruising in the passing lane and, even more terrifying, driving in the center turning lane.

But it gets worse.

This week I saw a very young child riding on the back of a scooter being driven recklessly down Raeford Road. He was wearing a toy Styrofoam helmet.

While I am at it, I need to bring up the wheelchair scooters that many people utilize. These wheelchairs are not designed for and should not be ridden in the middle of the road. It is not safe for anyone involved, and if you don’t believe me, check out Owen Drive at 5 p.m. on a Friday afternoon. It’s terrifying!

Again, I know there are a lot of pros and cons when it comes to this touchy subject. I would hate to think that someone has to die or get seriously injured before we recognize that this problem needs to be addressed.

Motor vehicles that are used for basic transportation should be registered with the state. The operators should have a valid drivers license, insurance and required to wear a Department of Transportation-approved helmet.

Legislation is needed now. Hopefully, this issue will not become politically charged. If it does maybe the folks in Raleigh will realize that few scooter drivers are registered voters. What do you think?

Thank you for reading Up & Coming Weekly.

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