Scooter safety: Authorities remind riders of road rules

Published 12:00 am Friday, January 2, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

Santa left plenty of motorized scooters under Christmas trees this year.

But based on the criticisms received by the Suffolk Police Department this week, St. Nick apparently neglected to tell children and their parents to the laws governing their use.

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&uot;We’ve had 15 complaints since Christmas,&uot; said Lt. Debbie George, spokeswoman for the Suffolk Police Department. &uot;The complaints are a combination of concerns about noise and about how they (the scooters) are being driven.&uot;

A scooter has been involved in one accident since Christmas, she added.

By definition, scooters or go-peds fall into the same category as mopeds under Virginia code, George said. The same rules apply for gasoline and battery-operated scooters.

While no operator’s license is required, riders must be at least 16 in order to ride the scooters on the roadways. While on the road, riders must obey all traffic laws, including a state-mandated 30 mph speed limit.

Younger people are permitted to ride scooters on private property, she said.

The state has no legislation requiring riders to wear helmets.

However, the city has drafted a proposal that would require riders to wear helmets and protective eye gear, George said.

&uot;We want to raise awareness and educate parents and children as to the responsibilities and rules governing operation, prior to beginning serious enforcement,&uot; she said. &uot;Voluntary compliance is preferred.&uot;

If not, both parents and children could receive traffic summons, George said.

She urged parents to supervise their children while they are at play.

The police department had seen an increase in reports of people trying to steal scooters from children, similar to the increase in bicycle larcenies that often occurred after Christmas in years past, George said.

&uot;We not trying to make this hard on anybody,&uot; she said. &uot;We just want to make it as safe as possible for everybody.&uot;