Scooters and mopeds are extremely popular with commuters and students, primarily because they're economical. Not only are they affordable, they're also relatively inexpensive to maintain and offer great gas mileage.
These two-wheel vehicles, however, aren't the safest means of travel. In fact, your chance of getting killed while operating a scooter is 35 times higher than driving a car, according to a recent report from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Orange paint marks a spot on the pavement where two North Carolina teens died in an early morning crash after the moped they were on was hit by a Jeep and run over by a cargo truck.
Police said the headlight on the moped wasn't on, making it difficult for other drivers to see the moped.
"I ride my moped everywhere I go," says Fred Mesmer. "It's the only transportation I have."
When Mesmer is operating his moped, he tries to be safe by staying alert, wearing a helmet and running his lights regardless of whether it's day or night.
"You've got to be aware that people don't see you," Mesmer adds.
The people that don't see you are driving bigger and heavier vehicles. If there is an accident, the odds aren't great for a scooter operator or passenger.
"You've got safety features in cars that will protect you in the event of an accident that just don't exist on this," says Michael Pearce, who owns Vespa of Charlotte in North Carolina.
Pearce reminds customers their top priority should be to make sure all of the equipment is in working order before heading out on the road, especially the head, break and signal lights.
You also want to monitor the tread condition and air pressure of your tires to make sure you have a good grip on the road.
Inspecting your personal equipment is your second priority.
Boots offer the best protection for your feet. Helmets that meet or exceed standards set by the United States Department of Transportation are 'DOT certified.' A closed-face helmet is the safest to wear, because it offers the most protection for your face.
The clothing you wear can also make a difference for your safety.
"Bright yellow and oranges are extremely important to make yourself seen," Pearce says.
Wear shades or goggles to protect your eyes from the sun, wind, rain and, yes, bugs.
"It hurts bad enough when the bug hits here," Pearce says while pointing to his cheek. "You don't want the bug or anything else, for that matter, to hit you in the eyes!"
Some scooter drivers like to listen to music while driving, but experts say that's not a good idea.
You want to be able to use all of your senses while driving because you may be able to hear the screeching tires before you actually see a car about to hit you.
Changing weather conditions can also pose a hazard.
Those painted white and yellow lines on the pavement are great for keeping drivers in their lane, but when these markings get wet, oil dropped by other vehicles makes the surface extremely slick for a two-wheeler.
"If you run across them when it is too wet, the bike can get out from under you and you are going to go down," Pearce says.
You should always obey the speed limit, but be prudent. If cars and trucks are moving at a faster speed, you may need to accelerate.
"Don't put yourself in danger by holding traffic up and creating an unnecessary back-up as well," Pearce adds. "Keep pace with traffic."
If that's not an option, you may have to find an alternate route.
The following information is from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission regarding Scooter Data (Source: http://cpsc.gov/pr/prscoot.html).
Non-Powered Scooters Injury Data
Motorized Scooter Injury Data
The following information is from an article entitled "Scooter vs. Automobile Accidents" published article on eHow.com (Source: http://www.ehow.com/facts_5708288_scooter-vs_-automobile-accidents.html).
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