FHP Warns of Hazards Associated With Motorized Scooters
CONTACT: Robert Sanchez
Public Information Administrator
CONTACT: Lt. Col. Ken Howes, FHP
January 16, 2004
The Florida Highway Patrol is warning motorists to be on the lookout for motorized scooters illegally operating on Florida’s streets, highways, and sidewalks. Many resemble a skateboard to which a small gasoline engine and a steering device have been added, generally with the rider standing.
“Many children who are too young to have a driver license received a motorized scooter as a Christmas gift,” said Col. Christopher Knight, Director of the FHP. “Because they’ve never driven a large vehicle such as a car or truck, they’re unfamiliar with traffic laws. Often, they’re also oblivious to traffic hazards and to the problems that drivers of larger vehicles face – problems such as blind spots, slick roads, and long stopping distances.”
In current law (322.01 F.S.), motorized scooters are considered motor vehicles. Under 322.03 F.S., a valid driver license is required to operate any motor vehicle on the public roadways unless it’s explicitly exempted by language elsewhere in the statutes. There’s no such exemption for motorized scooters. Moreover, because motorized scooters lack license plates and registrations, the law does not allow them on the public roadways, even if the rider is licensed. So it’s a potential violation for children or anyone else who lacks a driver license to operate them on the public roadways, and violators are subject to fines.
Fred O. Dickinson, Executive Director of the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, notes that legislators and law enforcement officials had voiced concern about motorized scooters even before a recent crash killed a 12-year-old boy in Boca Raton. “The Legislature regularly reviews the statutes governing motor vehicles in light of new developments, including the emergence of new types of vehicles,” Mr. Dickinson noted. “We’ll continue to work with legislators as they address these issues.”
Meanwhile, the Florida Highway Patrol is preparing a public service announcement for distribution to Florida’s TV stations and cable systems, to educate motorists and parents of the risks that motorized scooters pose on the public roadways and in the hands of children too young to drive. Additional information on motorized scooters is available on the DHSMV Website at www.flhsmv.gov/fhp/misc/News/ScooterRel.htm.
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