Florida’s got a scooter problem. While people across the country use scooters as an inexpensive and easy way to get around, thousands of tourists in Florida also rent them when on vacation or spring break. This has made the Sunshine State #1 in the nation when it comes to scooter injuries and fatalities. Because of this, legislators are discussing a new law requiring riders under 21 to wear helmets on Florida roads.
Currently, individuals operating a motorcycle in Florida don’t need to wear a helmet if they are 21 or older; for scooters, that requirement drops to 16 years of age. Studies show that only 17% of riders wear helmets, and over 90% operate uninsured. Although scooters don’t generally exceed 30 miles per hour, that doesn’t make them any less dangerous; simply Google Florida scooter deaths 2018 to view countless stories of injuries and fatalities this year alone—and it’s only May.
To help curb injury and fatality, Senator Keith Perry (R-Gainesville) spearheaded the new legislation that would require helmets for younger riders. “We all have a responsibility to look at what activities are age-appropriate, whether it’s suggestions that you shouldn’t watch certain movies, you can’t smoke or drink alcohol, or can’t vote,” Perry says. “It’s nothing new to put restrictions to people based on age.”
Under the new legislation, younger riders not wearing helmets would receive a traffic violation that would cost just over $100 after court fees. In addition, the bill would require those under 21 to display a special colored or uniquely designed license plate to make them easily identifiable to others sharing the road.
While a scooter is certainly no chopper like the ones Peter Fonda and Dennis Hopper rode (I’m dating myself, aren’t I), the freedom of the open road beckons regardless. There’s just nothing better than feeling the wind through your hair (however if you clicked that link, you'll see that even Fonda had a star-spangled helmet). Ultimately, your life is more important than your hair. Studies show that the risk of injury for those traveling by scooter or moped is 20 times greater than for those traveling by car. So much for easy riding.
While motorcyclist groups against the law have come forward, the statistics speak for themselves and it’s unlikely they will defeat it. The bill passed the Senate’s transportation committee unanimously on November 14 of last year, and it remains in review with the subcommittee on transportation, tourism and economic development. Next up? A trip to the appropriations committee for final determination.
We’ll keep you posted on the outcome of the proposed law.
At Lowman Law Firm, we encourage you to always wear your helmet for safety. But if you’ve been injured in a scooter, moped, or motorcycle accident that was not your fault—regardless of helmet—we can help you recover damages. Contact us today to discuss your case.