By William Bill Hurst

As the price of gasoline soars more people have been switching to motorcycles, scooters and mopeds, which get far better miles.  But as the numbers of mopeds and scooters rises so will the number of accidents, safety officials have agreed.

The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that there were 2,870 emergency room treated injuries relating to motorized scooters reported in the first nine months of 2001, and 2,760 injuries reported in 2000.  This was a substantial increase over the prior year which had only 1,330 total injuries reported in 1999.  99% of these injuries occurred in children under the age of 15.  The most common injuries were fractures and most injuries were to the arms, legs, faces and heads.  Injuries associated with non-powered scooters have increased dramatically since 2000.  During 2000, there were 40, 5000 emergency treated injuries associated with these scooters.  Again, 85% of these injuries were in children less than 15 years of age, and 2/3 of these injuries were to males with fractures being the most common injuries.  www.cpsc.gov/pr/prscoot.html

The most current information reveals that more than 256 teen year old boys are killed or seriously injured in moped accidents every year.  This comes from the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM).  This number means that moped riders are more likely to be injured or involved in accident or to die while riding a moped than walking, cycling or traveling in a car.  The IAM reports that 16-year old boys are being allowed to ride mopeds with too little practical understanding of safe road craft or defensive riding skills, leaving them particularly vulnerable.  The government is currently reviewing driver training and testing in light of the IAM report, and it is believed that the way 16 year olds are trained and licensed to drive a moped should be reviewed.  The IAM’s recent report entitled The Dangerous Age for Moped Riders analyzes nearly 3,500 teenage moped rider crashes between 2000 and 2006.  This report also found that 90% of the 16 year old moped riders involved in serious accidents are boys, and that 2/3 happen on urban roads.  www.telegraph.co.uk/motoring/motorbikes/5077581/Moped/littlerider-littlerisks.html

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) reports the number of fatalities involving mopeds doubled between 2005 and 2008.  In 2009 a Plainfield, Indiana teenager died after a moped accident.  For newscast video covering that and a discussion of Indiana’s licensing law for moped riders see www.youtube.com/watch?v=-pWt6Zi1m2k

Across the nation there have been reported very serious injuries for youths riding mopeds.  In Buffalo, Indiana a young man 18 years of age was struck by a car while riding his moped in May of 2009.  He has been paralyzed from the neck down ever since.  His 1997 Yamazuma is a cross between a moped and a motorcycle with a maximum speed of 45 mph, which was technically slow for a motorcycle according to Indiana Code.

The news reports that moped fatalities in Indiana have nearly doubled, increasing from 9 in 2005 to 19 in 2009, according to the data from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.  In 2009, 79% of the 19 moped drivers who were killed in accidents were not wearing helmets.  www.jconline.com/article/20110809/LIFE03/108090305/Teen-story-of-survival

A moped has been defined by Indiana Law as a two or three-wheeled vehicle that is propelled by an internal combustion engine or a battery powered motor.  The maximum speed a moped can travel on a flat surface is 25 mph.  The recent moped crashes and fatalities in Indiana such as the above case have caused people to call for safer and stricter laws for moped drivers.  Indiana only requires riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet and eye protection.  Drivers 18 and older need not wear any protective gear.  To simply operate a moped, a person need only be 15 years old and doesn’t need to possess an Indiana Drivers License.  Instead, they apparently only need an Indiana Identification Card.

Two recent scooter crashes in Carmel, Indiana have police on a safety campaign.  A teenager was killed in June 2010 at East 98 Street and Keystone Avenue in Indianapolis when his scooter collided with a truck. Another accident involving a scooter happened a couple of hours before at US 31 and 136th Street.  See a video of the accidents and a discussion at http://www.fox59.com/news/wxin-scooter-crash-safety-campaign-061410,0,4639406.story

Indiana legislatures are considering moped rules in a consumer study committee reported by the Indiana Economic Digest in June 2011.  www.indianaeconomicdigest.net/main.asp?SectionID=31&SubSectionID=120&ArticleID=60514  This legislation committee is slated to take up the issue of moped scooters and motorized bikes and consider whether the two-wheeled vehicles should be subject to the same rules as cars and motorcycles. Law enforcement has recently been pushing for more rules for what has been largely an unregulated class of vehicles.  This Commission has noted that the National Highway Safety Administration has reported the number of fatalities involving mopeds has doubled between 2005 and 2009.  However, the number of fatalities involving mopeds has dropped in Indiana from 2009 to 2010.  But according to the Indiana State Police the number crashes on state highways involving mopeds went from 630 2009 to 790 in 2010, with an increase in non-fatal injuries.  Incidentally those numbers don’t include moped-related accidents on county roads or city streets.  http://www.wthr.com/story/14036132/state-lawmakers-respond-to-Indiana’s-moped-loophole?clienttype=printable

If you have been involved in a moped accident and have received a serious injury, please contact the Law Office of William “Bill” Hurst.  We have handled thousands of personal injury cases, many involving moped and motorcycle collisions.  We do not get paid unless you collect compensation.  Please call (317) 636-0808 or toll free at (800) 636-0808 or visit us online at www.billhurst.com

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Bill Hurst has successfully represented hundreds of accident victims, and has limited his practice to personal injury cases for over thirty-five (35) years. Bill has helped families with tragic life altering injuries and deaths. Bill has obtained substantial verdicts and settlements to compensate families for their losses. He is a graduate, with honors, from Indiana University School of Law. He has served on the Executive Committee and is a Director Emeritus of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. He has published articles on various personal injury topics and has lectured at various legal seminars. Bill is listed in Naifeh and Smith, The Best Lawyers in America and has been for over ten (10) years, Bill is selected as a “Super Lawyer” by the Indianapolis Monthly Magazine from its first publication in 2002 to its most recent; he was selected as one of Indiana’s Top 100 Lawyers by the American Trial Lawyers Association. In 2000, Bill was named the Indiana Trial Lawyer Of The Year by the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association. Bill has the highest rating given by Martindale Hubble, as does his law firm. Bill has extensive litigation experience involving automobile, truck, motorcycle, bike accidents, slip and fall cases, product and manufacturing failures, dangerous drugs, product design, construction site accidents and more. He has represented clients not only in Indiana but also throughout the Country. Bill successfully represented the State of Indiana in the Tobacco Litigation. He has been involved in mass tort litigation, representing all women in the State of Indiana in the Norplant litigation, breast implant litigation, and represents represented numerous clients in the Vioxx litigation. Bill believes that every case is unique and requires special personal attention. You may email him at WHurst@MHJD.com or call (800) 636-0808 for a free consultation.