Massachusetts Scooter & Moped Accident Lawyer
In recent years, motorized bicycles, including mopeds and electric scooters, have become increasingly popular as an alternative form of travel in Massachusetts. Compared to cars, trucks, and other more traditional vehicles, scooters and mopeds are cost-effective, convenient, and fun to ride. However, recent developments, including the emergence of electric scooter rentals in many cities, have raised many issues surrounding scooter and moped laws and regulations.
Massachusetts Scooters & Mopeds: Definitions
Many people use the terms ‘scooter’ and ‘moped’ interchangeably. However, the two types of motorized bicycles differ in structure and capacity. Additionally, the state’s laws and regulations for each are not entirely uniform.
In Massachusetts, a moped must have 2 or 3 wheels and can be with or without pedals. A modern scooter meets the classification of a motorized bicycle if it has a maximum cylinder capacity of 50 cubic centimeters; an automatic transmission; is capable of reaching speeds up to 30mph, and meets all federal motor vehicle safety standards.
Scooter Laws: Requirements and Restrictions in Massachusetts
Even though electric or e-scooters and motorized scooters operate differently, Massachusetts applies the same laws to regulate the use of both. In some cases, e-scooter riders have to comply with state laws designed for mopeds.
The lack of clarity surrounding the laws and regulations for e-scooters can be a source of confusion for riders. The lack of uniformity is a cause for concern and an issue that needs to be addressed through legislation. Below are the operating requirements for motorized scooters in Massachusetts:
- Motorized scooters should not exceed speeds of 20 miles per hour (MPH) on the road. NOTE: Mopeds should not travel at speeds greater than 25mph.
- Any person operating a motorized scooter must have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit and be at least 16 years of age.
- Scooter riders have a right to use all public roadways in Massachusetts, except express state highways where signs prohibiting bicycles are posted.
- Scooter riders are subject to all applicable traffic laws and regulations.
- Scooter riders shall keep to the right side of the road at all times, including when passing motor vehicles.
- Scooters shall have operational stop and turn signals.
- No operating a scooter any time after sunset or before sunrise.
- All riders must wear a US Dept. of Transportation standard helmet.
- No passengers allowed.
While Massachusetts law requires a valid driver’s license for all riders, it does not require motorized scooters to be registered as motor vehicles.
The requirement to have operational stop and turn signals increase safety by allowing riders to keep their hands on the handlebars at all times. Since most e-scooters lack turn signals, there is some question as to the legality of operating electric scooters on public ways in Massachusetts.
Under Massachusetts law, violators of any of the motorized scooter laws are subject to the following penalties:
A fine of up to $25 for a first-time offense
A fine between $25 and $50 for a second offense
A fine between $50 and $100 for third or subsequent violations
While some cities and towns permit e-scooter rental companies such as Lime and Bird to operate, the requirement of stop and turn signals and a lack of clarity with respect to some of the scooter laws has resulted in a limited number of scooter rental companies being able to do business in Massachusetts.
Proposed Changes to Scooters Law
Without specific statewide laws for electric scooters, the Commonwealth regulates e-scooters with rules and regulations implemented for motorized scooters and mopeds.
Since the emergence of e-scooters, there have been several proposals for their ‘legalization’ from both Governor Charlie Baker and state lawmakers. Governor Baker’s proposals include allowing e-scooters to operate without turn signals and subject to the rules of traditional bicycles.
Despite the need for statewide regulations, there are proposals to permit local governments to set their own rules and bylaws. With safety concerns at the forefront, the proposals seek to limit where people can operate e-scooters and change the minimum age for drivers from 16 to 18. Some of the proposals may require e-scooter rental companies to have liability insurance and pay taxes on rides.
Despite their small wheels, scooters can travel at relatively high speeds of 20+ MPH. In the event of a crash or a fall, riders are at a high risk of injury as they are unshielded and have limited protections. Additionally, there are concerns and issues surrounding scooter rider’s unregulated use of sidewalks and improper parking.
Across America, there has been an increase in emergency room visits for scooter riders with severe injuries including, bone fractures and head injuries. These and other safety concerns are the reasons behind the proposed changes to Massachusetts scooter laws and the reluctance of some communities to allow the use of e-scooters.
While e-scooters are affordable and environmentally friendly, their emergence has created several issues, including safety concerns that have likely slowed down the innovation. Even as authorities propose changes to scooter use and regulations, riders need to follow existing laws to improve safe driving. However, if you or your loved one gets into a scooter accident, you should contact an attorney to know your rights and explore your legal options.