NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

May 17, 2013

Riding a scooter? Make sure you know the rules

Bill Steeves
Newburyport Daily News

---- — With the coming of summer and the ever-increasing cost of gasoline, most of you have probably noticed a dramatic increase in the number of motorized scooters on our streets. If you are considering the use of one of these motorized scooters, you should be aware of the law regulating their use.

A “motorized scooter,” according to the Registry of Motor Vehicles, is a two- or three-wheeled vehicle that is designed to be stood or sat upon by the operator. The scooter has 1) handlebars, 2) is powered by an electric or gasoline motor and 3) is capable of being propelled with or without human power.

Yes, powered stand-up scooters are included. Motorized scooters are not registered by the RMV and therefore do not need insurance. Motorized scooters are operated at speeds of no greater than 20 mph.

If you do operate a motorized scooter as defined above, you must comply with the following Massachusetts requirements:

You must wear a helmet that meets or exceeds US DOT (Department of Transportation) standards.

You must be at least 16 years of age and have either a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit.

You must not operate the scooter at a speed of greater than 20 mph.

You may operate your motorized scooter on all public ways (unless specifically restricted) and are subject to all of the traffic laws that govern other regular motor vehicle traffic.

You must travel on the right side of the roadway at all times and not obstruct other regular vehicle traffic.

You must signal when stopping or turning.

Motorized scooters may not be operated after sunset or before sunrise.

You may not carry a passenger on a motorized scooter.

Fines vary from up to $25 for a first offense to up to $100 after a third offense.

Please note that motorized scooters are not “mopeds.” Mopeds are motorized bicycles that must not exceed 30 mph and must not exceed an engine displacement of 49 cubic centimeters (cc’s). If your motorized scooter is capable of a speed greater than 20 mph (most larger scooters fit this category), you must register that vehicle as a motorcycle, with applicable registration and insurance.

With safety for everyone on our roadways being our primary concern, the Newburyport Police Department will be aggressively enforcing the law concerning motorized scooters and mopeds. If you have any questions, please check with your respective police department to avoid any possible violations.

As always, please contact me with any questions you may have regarding this or other topics at wsteeves@newburyportpolice.com or ask for my voice mail at 978-462-4411. Until next time, be safe and be good to each other.

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Bill Steeves is a sergeant on the Newburyport Police Department. His column appears regularly in The Daily News.