Mopeds and motor scooters have become an increasing favorite among many urban commuters. The gas efficiency, coupled with their compact size, makes it the most efficient and economic choice for those living in congested areas. However, just like its faster motorcycle counterparts, motor scooters leave riders vulnerable to injury during an accident.
Illinois Motor Scooter/Moped Laws
In Illinois, mopeds are considered a class subdivision of a motor-driven cycle and can be operated with a valid driver’s license. While motorcycle riders must obtain a class L license, mopeds do not require a specific classification as long as the vehicle meets certain restrictions. In Illinois, a moped is classified as a two-wheeled vehicle that has the following characteristics:
- Is capable of reaching a speed of between 20 and 30 mph within one mile.
- Has an engine that is capable of producing no more than two horsepower.
- If equipped with an internal combustion engine, the displacement cannot exceed 50cc.
- Does not require the rider to shift gears.
Any motor scooters that do not meet the above criteria are classified as motor-driven cycles and require a class L or class M license.
Accident Risks for Mopeds/Motor Scooters
In Illinois, helmets are not required for moped, scooter, or electric bicycle riders. When operating a motor scooter, riders are required to wear eye protection or have a protective transparent windshield. For operation at night, a scooter must have a headlight that is visible from at least 500 feet away and a taillight that is visible from at least 100-600 feet away.
Due to the lack of protection while riding motorized scooters, riders are at higher risk for injury. A new study from Rutgers University, based on data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance system between 2008 and 2017, shows that U.S. scooter injuries have tripled. (from 2,325 in 2008 to 6,497 in 2017). Over the nine year period, there were 990 recorded events for craniofacial injuries due to motorized scooter accidents resulting in an estimated 32,001 emergency department visits.
According to Rutgers researchers, safety rules, especially helmet usage, vary on a state to state basis, which is directly correlated to an increased number of craniofacial injuries. The report states, “closed head injuries, such as concussion and bleeding or bruising of the brain, were most frequent, followed by facial cuts or abrasion, and about 5% of the injuries were fractures, most frequently in the skull or nose.” The lack of protective equipment makes moped riders especially vulnerable to both injury and high medical bills.
Common Injuries in Scooter Accidents
Motor scooter accidents frequently occur at high speeds without the use of adequate protective equipment. In many cases, the driver and passengers can be thrown from the scooter causing life-altering or fatal injuries. Some of the most common motor scooter injuries include:
- Spinal cord injuries
- Broken bones
- Serious internal injuries
- Brain and neurological damage (traumatic brain injuries)
- Scars and disfigurement
- Loss of a limb
The above list only touches on a few of the more commonly occurring injuries that can result from a motor scooter accident. While the use of standard safety equipment can ultimately reduce the odds of serious injury, it can never fully eliminate the risk.
If you have been injured or suffered a loss of a loved one in a motor-scooter or moped accident, then you may have the right to financial compensation. The experienced Illinois motor-scooter and moped injury lawyers at John J. Malm & Associates will explain your options and fight for your right to the compensation you deserve.