How Safe Are Motor Scooters in New York?

With millions of New Yorkers relying on a public transit system every day, motor scooters are becoming an increasingly popular way for people to get around.

The appeal of motor scooters is obvious. They allow riders to zip around traffic and save on the costs of owning a car or truck. 

However, because motor scooters are often zig-zagging in and out of traffic while lacking the steel frame protection of a vehicle, injuries sustained from a motor scooter accident are often catastrophic.

What is a Motor Scooter?

A motor scooter is defined as a vehicle with an attached motor and handlebars for standing riders. Having no seat and no more than three wheels, they are considered to be “limited use motorcycles,” and are classified by their top speeds.

  • Those capable of speeds between 30 and 40 MPH are Class A and require a license.
  • Class B scooters have maximum speeds between 20-30 MPH and do not require license.
  • Class C scooters are those with top speeds of 20 MPH or less, and also do not require a license.

Beyond the convenience of being able to zip around from place to place, many fans of motor scooters point to them as an environmentally friendly way to reduce traffic congestion and carbon footprints. 

What Are Common Ways for a Motor Scooter Accident to Happen?

As motor scooters have grown in popularity, hospital emergency rooms have experienced an uptick in visits from people involved in scooter accidents. 

Here are some of the more common scenarios that lead to motor scooter accidents.

  • Malfunction of the motor scooter. Just as with other vehicles, motor scooters are prone to breaking down. This can include collapsing of the handlebar, failure of the brakes, flat tires, and issues with the motor.

  • Hazards in the roads. Potholes, waste, and other debris can easily cause a motor scooter to crash.

  • Inexperience of the driver. Many motor scooter drivers are not accustomed to the balance and reaction time required when driving on two wheels rather than four. It’s easy for the rider to be lulled into a false sense of security, especially in the early days and weeks of owning a motor scooter.

  • Car and truck drivers are unaware of how a motor scooter will react. Unfortunately, many car and truck drivers do not know who has the right of way when a motor scooter is in their view. The resulting hesitation or inaction can easily lead to a car or truck accident. Adding to the problem is the fact that many of the smaller motor scooters are difficult for car and truck drivers to see.

Making up the majority of motor scooter accidents are head-on collisions. Accidents are also more likely when the motor scooter driver is making left-hand turns. 

What Should I Do If I’m Involved in a Motor Scooter Accident?

Because your body is in an incredibly vulnerable position while riding a motor scooter, serious injuries are common when there’s an accident. Commonly reported injuries from motor scooter accidents include:

  • Head and brain injuries
  • Back and spinal cord injuries
  • Nerve damage
  • Paralysis
  • Internal organ injuries
  • Road rash
  • Broken bones and sprains.

If you’re involved in a motor scooter accident – either as a rider, pedestrian, or occupant of another vehicle – be sure you do the following. 

  • Seek medical attention as soon as possible, regardless of how you’re feeling. Keep in mind that many symptoms of injuries can take a while to reveal themselves, so the faster you’re examined by a licensed doctor, the better. Seeing a doctor also launches a documentation trail that can be invaluable if you decide to take legal action.

  • Document as much of the accident scene as you can. It is a good idea to use the camera on your smartphone to photograph the scene, including skid marks, proximity and working conditions of traffic signals and signs, etc. Also, speak with and collect contact information of witnesses and get copies of police reports and other official documentation.

  • Refrain from speaking with insurance providers of the at-fault person. While the at-fault person’s insurance provider will most likely get in touch with you quickly, their main concern is to convince you to settle for as little money as possible and as quickly as possible.

Whether you’re driving a motor scooter or have been injured by someone who has, your best course of action is to speak with a New York personal injury lawyer who can guide you as you seek to recover lost wages, compensation for medical bills, and pain and suffering. 

Remember, you have three years from the date of the accident to file a personal injury claim in the state of New York. Because such cases often require a lot of lead time for preparation, we recommend you get in touch with a personal injury lawyer as quickly as possible.