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Beware the Dangers of Motorized Scooters

By Renee Nordstrand on November 15, 2018

In many ways, motorized scooters present great solutions for the traffic problems in Santa Barbara and throughout much of California. With that in mind, there are also very real risks that come with hundreds of people riding scooters that can go up to 15 mph on city streets and sidewalks.

When accidents do happen, who is truly at fault becomes a big question with an important answer.

Are Motorized Scooters Legal?

The legality of rideshare motorized scooters in Santa Barbara is something that is still being worked out, but they are allowed as long as the company pays an application fee and abides by Santa Barbara’s rules. Lime has already established a presence in the city. There are two big issues that people need to keep in mind:

  1. Sidewalk Safety – Motorized vehicles, like these scooters, cannot be legally operated on sidewalks in Santa Barbara. While some people would like to see this law changed, it is unlikely as these vehicles would present a clear threat to pedestrians. That means motorized scooters need to stay on the street or in bike lanes and should be operated in a responsible manner.
  2. Helmet Laws – Operating something like a motorized scooter used to require a helmet in California. However, Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill that will go into effect on January 1, 2019, requiring only electric scooter riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet. Adults do not have to wear helmets, but it is a wise choice. It is currently up to the rider to provide his or her own helmet, not the service renting the scooter out. Underage riders without a helmet may be stopped and fined by law enforcement.

What Happens If a Scooter Hits a Pedestrian?

If someone riding a scooter strikes a pedestrian, it is likely that the person operating the scooter can be held at fault for the accident. The company that rented out the scooter may also be held liable for injuries caused by a scooter in an accident, but this is untested territory. In general, it is likely that a jury would look at the person riding the scooter for fault and liability, and that person’s auto insurance policy may be used to cover the victim’s damages.

What Happens If a Car Hits a Scooter?

If a motorized scooter and a car collide, matters become complicated. In general, these situations will be handled like any other vehicle collision, with fault depending on the actions of both parties. Was the scooter rider obeying California’s law, prohibiting electric scooters from traveling on a street with a speed limit above 25mph? Did the driver fail to check the mirrors, and proceed without caution, striking the scooter? While drivers of cars, trucks, and SUVs are expected to be mindful of smaller vehicles, motorized scooters are considered motor vehicles and so their drivers must follow all applicable traffic laws.

After an Electric Scooter Accident, Call NordstrandBlack PC

Anyone involved in an accident with a motor scooter should consult with an experienced Santa Barbara injury attorney immediately. The laws surrounding electric scooters are still new, and insurance issues must be ironed out by a professional. If you or a loved one has been injured, call NordstrandBlack PC at (805) 962-2022 for a free consultation. If there is compensation available for you, we will go to work to get it.

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