Scooter rentals are available in many cities, including Seattle, as well as near many tourist attractions. They look like a fun, easy way for the whole family to get from one place to another quickly and see the sites. BUT, are they safe? The answer is, “it depends.”
Before getting on a scooter, you should ask yourself the following questions?
- Is this specific scooter safe? Take the time to look carefully at this scooter. Do all of the brakes work? Do the handlebars work and turn properly? Are the tires in good shape? Is the place where you stand big enough for you and does it look properly maintained? Are there lights or reflectors on the scooter? Does the scooter make any strange noises when you operate it? Does anything feel loose?
- Do I know how to operate this scooter? Have you ever ridden a scooter before? If so, have you ridden a scooter like this one before? Do you know how to make the scooter start moving? Do you know how to control the speed? Do you know how to slow down and stop? Do you know how to turn? Do you know where to stand? Do you know how to balance your body on the scooter? How will you alert people in front of you that you are there? What will you do if someone (car or pedestrian) darts in front of you?
- Am I safe to drive this scooter right now? Have you been drinking? Have you taken any drugs (prescription or otherwise) that might impair your ability to operate the scooter? Are you wearing a helmet?! How do you feel today? Is there anything at all that might impair your ability to recognize a danger and avoid it? Are you able to devote all of your attention to operating a scooter?
- Is the area where I plan to ride safe for scooters? Do you know where you are going and the route you will take to get there? Have you ever ridden a scooter like this in this area? If you are in an urban area, are there marked places for you to travel? Do you know what the laws are about scooters on sidewalks (hint – don’t ride there!)? If you are in an area with hills, will the scooter go up them? If not, what is your plan for getting up those hills? If there is a marked bicycle lane, are scooters allowed to use it?
- Are the weather and traffic patterns safe for riding a scooter? Is it rainy, icy or windy? Is the sun rising or setting and does it create blind spots for people facing it (either you or people driving vehicles)? Is it rush hour or an especially busy time? Is it dark outside? Are there buses or trucks nearby (they might not see you)? Are there lots of bicyclists or runners nearby (they might dart out in front of you)?
- Do I have sufficient insurance coverage in case I hurt someone? Do you have homeowner’s insurance or renter’s insurance? If so, will it provide insurance coverage if you injure someone? Do you have auto insurance with Personal Injury Protection insurance and Underinsured Motorist coverage? Do you have health insurance? Regardless of the insurance you have, do you know if it will protect you if someone injures you while you are riding a scooter? Likewise, do you know if your insurance will protect you by paying someone that you might injure while riding a scooter? Are you prepared to pay for the medical bills out of your own pocket if your insurance won’t pay your bills? Are you prepared to pay out of your own pocket for someone else’s medical bills if you injure them and your insurance won’t pay for it (note that this means you may get sued and have your wages garnished)? Unfortunately, many insurance companies do NOT pay for injuries related to scooter riding.
You should only get on a scooter if you can answer “Yes” to each of these questions. If you don’t ask yourself these questions or if your answer is “No” to any of these questions, you may be risking serious injury or death, either for you or someone else.
Sure, scooters are fun, but only if they’re safe. Be sure to take the time to ask these questions.