Legislation proposes helmet requirement for scooterists under 21

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By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
December 18, 2017

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Scooter drivers aged 16 and up aren't required to wear helmets, but the increased popularity of the vehicles has lawmakers looking to raise the age requirement.

A journal article by PubMed Central says less than one out of five riders wears a helmet while on a scooter.

"You don't want to look like you're a geeky guy or girl riding a moped with a helmet on," says Senator Keith Perry.

Scooters and mopeds are a common sight on college campuses. Gabriel DeMarco says he's been in multiple accidents on his scooter, but still chooses not to wear a helmet.

"I know I should do it," he said. "But I just kind of don't want to."

New legislation would require moped riders under the age of 21 to wear head protection. If approved, it will bring helmet laws for the lower-speed scooters in line with the current law for motorcycles.

Even though scooters don't go more than 30 miles per hour, crashes can still be devastating, causing traumatic brain injury or even death. 23 people were killed in moped crashes in Florida during 2015.

"It seems like daily we're having kids who are coeds traveling back and fourth around campus who are getting injured," Senator Perry said.

Matthew Smith was involved in a motorcycle accident earlier this year, which left his leg and arms scarred. The accident happened while he was traveling under 30 miles an hour.

Smith, who works at a scooter shop near FSU, says that he was wearing a helmet and, if he hadn't been, "I would have died."

He says despite always recommending helmets to customers, it's common for young riders not to wear them.

"We've seen a few kids die from not wearing their helmets. It's just a good idea," he explains.

The driver of a moped was
killed in crash near the Florida State University campus in October.

If signed into law, scooter riders under 21 caught without a helmet would face a fine of up to $108.

The proposal has already passed one Senate committee. It's scheduled for hearings in Senate and House committees when legislators return in January.

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