Safety Tips and Preparedness for the Scooter Rider
So you've got yourself a snazzy scooter (or you've got your eye on one) and you're thinking you can just hop on and go, right? Not so fast, Speedster. There's a lot more to scooter safety than meets the eye.
You've heard the helmet speech a thousand times: wear a helmet and protect your noggin'. Well, you're about to hear it again, along with some other nifty tips to help make sure your quick trips around town are as accident-free and as safe as possible.
It might surprise you to learn that motorists have a difficult time spotting scooters on the road. Even lime green and hot pink ones. Scooters are compact and easy to overlook with a quick glance in the mirror.
Here are some basic scooter safety recommendations from Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF):
Here comes the helmet plug.
Helmets are one of the best items of protection you can wear. Make sure it meets Department of Transportation (DOT) standards. Having a helmet not only protects your head in the event of a collision, but it also reduces wind noise, minimizes debris in your face and eyes and even helps protect you in extreme temperatures. Get a helmet or step off the scooter.
Protective gear for the rest of your body.
From eye protection to protective pants and jacket, protecting your skin and eyes when you're running a few errands may not seem like a big deal. But in the event of an accident, you'll be glad you took the extra step to safeguard yourself.
Enjoy the spotlight.
Wear bright colors, get reflective clothing, and add reflective strips to your helmet and boots. Anything you can do to help bring attention to yourself when you're on the road will help ensure that other drivers know you're there.
Signal, Signal, Signal.
Don't assume the people around you know where you're going (most drivers wouldn't classify themselves as mind readers). Give plenty of notice when you are about to turn or change lanes. In a scooter versus vehicle scuffle, the scooter is always the underdog.
Be loud and proud.
Use your horn and don't be shy about it. If someone is about to do something potentially unsafe, give a BEEP to alert them to your presence. You'll be doing yourself and the people around you a big favor.
Don't play Hide and Seek.
Motor vehicles, particularly large trucks, have numerous blind spots, especially for something as compact as a motor scooter. Stay alert and make yourself seen. The more visible you are the better.
Can You S.E.E.?
According to the MSF, the majority of crashes between a scooter and car occur in intersections. Most frequently, these crashes occur when a vehicle is turning left in front of a scooter. So what do you do? Avoid intersections all together?
No! It's easy to deal with intersections and other scooter hazards when you follow the MSF's SEE system.
S - Search around you for potential hazards.
E - Evaluate any possible hazards, such as turning cars, railroad tracks, etc.
E - Execute the proper action to avoid the hazard.
It's vital to remember that responsible riding always comes first.
And One More Thing on Scooter Safety (well, more than one)...
Check with your state about licensing rules and regulations.
Whether your cool set of wheels tops out at 20 MPH or 60 MPH, make sure you know the law before you take to the road.
Patience is a virtue.
Tailgaters present a special problem for the scooter-lover. Don't get mad, get safe. Flash your brake light as a warning before you slow down. Put extra space between you and the vehicle in front of you to help you avoid sudden decisions. And stay close to the center of the lane or the tailgater might think you're giving them the okay to pass you.
Don't ride off into the beautiful sunset.
Early in the morning and late in the evening when vision is impaired can present unique dangers for a scooter operator. Slow down, use your headlight and be aware that this time of day may be the most difficult for you to be seen on the road.
When the weather outside is frightful...
Take additional precautions because wind, rain and poor road conditions will affect you more than the average driver. Consider taking a scooter safety class that teaches you defensive driving maneuvers for extreme conditions.