Blame It on the Rider

I've seen a lot of completely idiot scooter crashes lately and maybe this is why I tend to rant a bit on the matter. I've also talked to some of my riding fellows, both seasoned ones and guys new to the two-wheeled world, and I was pleasantly surprised to see more support for stricter laws than on previous occasions.
Basically, we thought that the state (any state) could do well and check the laws a bit when it comes to riding a scooter on public roads, even introduce a special driving license for scooters, if need be. And taking a look around, I'd say such a measure is needed direly.

In the end, it's not about money, because such type of licensing can be made inexpensive and therefore affordable for pretty much anyone. It's not about restricting a person's right to ride, as some shallow guys once protested. It's all down to the plain, good-old road safety every administration talks about every once in a while, especially after a huge crash occurs and multiple lives are lost.

A common sense rule says that one has to obey the rules of a certain game while playing. If you're playing basketball, then you should know that 2 steps marks the limit. Nobody cares for how long you've been playing handball and have been allowed to make 3 steps: the ball's different and there's a hoop now, so you'd better get a grip.

Well, this is exactly how things should be like: you're using the road, and ask to be treated like everybody else, then do like everybody else – get training and get licensed.

Now, some could say that scooters are less dangerous than motorcycles and that's why getting to ride one on public roads is easier. Well, mates, this just doesn't cut it: ridden mindlessly and in utter disregard of the basic road regulations makes scooters even more dangerous than motorbikes.

And just before you can think of something smart in reply to this, here are the first arguments to back this claim.

First of all, scooters have rather lousy brakes. We'll skip the last models with dual-disc ABS, there's only a handful of them on the streets and are virtually inexistent compared to the huge numbers of scoots and non-license, small-displacement bikes around.

Yes, these machines just don't have enough stopping power and this makes them very unsafe. Manufacturers could, of course, make them much better, but the prices would go too high, defeating the purpose of owning a scooter.

If you've ever ridden a motorcycle with bad brakes, then you should agree with me that bad brakes are killer. The bad way.

Secondly, almost nobody wears decent protective gear on a scooter, with helmets being almost a wonder in Asia or Africa, even though some parts of Europe are just the same. Jackets, boots, gloves? That's a sad joke, c'mon!

And since the State (pretty much any country has had its share of such crap) is constantly complaining about the immense medical expenses resulting in road accidents, how's that for having all these fellows riding unhelmeted and wearing only shorts and flip-flops?

It doesn't seem fair at all to see some idiots looking forward to making riding a motorcycle ATGATT mandatory while a person is allowed to ride almost naked. And this DOESN'T have to do with a particular country, as this is a global approach.

Many countries and states strongly enforce helmet laws and this is good, as helmeted riders die 10 times less often than the rest. However, treating scooters differently only seems very wrong.

Third on the list is the riding skills level. One takes motorcycle riding and motorcycle safety courses prior to taking the licensing exam. A scooter rider will in most cases kick off and ride away. 100 yards ahead, this guy will be dash speeding through the intersection, completely oblivious to any possibility that a car approaching from the opposing lane could steer to the left. Cue the coroner van.

More cynical fellows only sighed and added, "hey man, it's natural selection, it's Mother Earth's way to sort through these idiots, that's all." Though a bit cynical myself, I won't swallow this because it's simply wrong.

These poor chaps dying by the tens of thousands each year are not idiots. Well, few of them really are, and for them it's the natural selection doing its job. But in many other cases, the crashes could have been less severe or avoided altogether, should these chaps have known more about traffic.

And this brings me back to square one: better road education for the scooter riders! Licensing must not necessarily be expensive to be effective, but a riding permit should be mandatory and hard to get. Just like the driving one, and especially for those applying for it as their first. Here's one more reason why things make sense this way...

If a person has already been driving cars for let's say, 10 years, then he or she is what we could call an experienced motorist, even though some of our human fellows still drive like… insert your fav 4-letter word.

In the worst case, we could say that they've at least seen a lot of things take place on the road and are expected to tell a dangerous situation when they see one. And it looks like an experienced driver will not speed like an idiot through cluttered intersections, slalom mindlessly in and out his or her lane, pass on the right side or simply think that nothing bad can ever happen.

A teen, when on his or her scooter for the first time, has no such mental restrictions, the world is already a wonderful place because their ride is there. And when we forget how dangerous roads are in the real life, we're all putting our health and lives at stake.

Peace to you all, from 49cc to those riding a Boss Hoss.
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