Tuesday, November 29, 2005

More Police News for Scooters

Scooters don't faze

UPDOFFICERS PREFER STUDENTS TO WEAR HELMETS ON THE ROAD

By KARI M. TARR

Alligator Contributing Writer
Scooters are treated as motorcycles by law when traveling at 30 mph or more, but local police usually disregard this fact because it would require an additional motor vehicle license, insurance and eye protection.
"Could we enforce them? Absolutely. Do we? Not really," said Gainesville Police Department Sgt. Anthony Ferrara.
Ferrara compared scooter law enforcement to jaywalking on a football gameday.
"There is a leniency given to students who aren't making waves," he said.
Amateur riders without proper protection, including a helmet, are a concern for officials, even though all scooter riders are not required to wear helmets.
"Any time you are going faster than walking pace on something not biologically part of you, you should have a helmet on," Ferrara said.
Under Florida law, motorcyclists over the age of 21 with proper license and $10,000 worth of personal injury insurance are exempt from helmet laws.
A state law requiring all motorcyclists to wear a helmet was revoked in 2000, and fatalities have dramatically increased since then. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, fatalities in Florida were 71 percent greater in the two years following the repeal than the two years before it.
"Students don't like to wear helmets because it doesn't look cool," said UPD officer David Miles. "It's a really dangerous trend."
University students hoping to return to Gainesville after the holiday break with new scooters should not overlook the helmets at the dealership.
"As a motorcycle rider, I don't see any significant difference between the two when you're in the city," said UF graduate student Paul Wiseman.