The tragic death of a 26-year-old sailor stationed at the Kitsap-Bangor Naval Base adds to the growing concern about the safety of mopeds, scooters, e-scooters, and e-bicycles, as well as other alternative forms of transportation in Maine.
The Kitsap Sun referred to the vehicle on which the submariner crashed as both a “scooter” and a “motorcycle,” although the Yamaha Chappy, produced in the 1970s and 1980s, would be characterized as a moped under Maine’s Bureau of Motor Vehicles because it has a motor that reaches up to 50 cc’s (compared to a scooter, which doesn’t exceed 25 cc’s). Most mopeds top out at speeds of 40 mph, but some larger models can go faster.
Although mopeds haven’t historically been a common way of getting around cities like Portland and Bangor, that does seem to be changing. Traffic safety officials and Maine injury attorneys are paying closer attention.
Moped Dangers in Maine
Other recent Maine moped accidents that made headlines include:
- A 40-year-old killed in a 2018 moped accident in which he struck a guardrail in Kennebunk.
- An 82-year-old man killed in a 2017 moped accident in Alfred (Southern Maine) when a driver turning left onto Route 202 struck him. She claimed she did not see him. (Other reports characterized the vehicle the decedent was driving as a scooter.)
- A 52-year-old pedestrian killed in 2016 when he was struck by a moped at a Portland intersection.
As noted by researchers in the Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, mopeds and scooters – primary modes of transportation in numerous European and East Asian countries – were only moderately popular in the U.S. in the 1970s and 1980s. It has been 25 years since the last significant safety study was conducted in the United States. But in the interim, moped and scooter popularity has soared from Maine to California, up 60 percent in recent years. A big part of that has to do with gas prices; mopeds can get 60 to 100 miles per gallon.
However, they’re also deadly. With speeds ranging from 30 mph to 60 mph, moped crash injury risk is 20 times higher than for car occupants, according to research outside the U.S. A big part of the problem, researchers have opined, is that our traffic infrastructure doesn’t accommodate the safety of moped and scooter drivers.
An analysis of nearly 5,700 moped and scooter crashes reported in Florida was conducted over six years. Of those, 18 percent resulted in severe or fatal injuries. In rural areas, outcomes tended to be worse, with 35 percent of moped crashes resulting in severe or deadly injuries. One-third of moped operators who suffered serious injuries didn’t have a driver’s license.
Per Maine Revised Statute Title 29-A, Chapter 11, Section 1253, moped operators do need to be licensed, be at least 16 years old, and pass an exam on qualifications for moped operation.
The Secretary of State may issue a license to operate a moped. An applicant must have attained 16 years of age and must pass an examination on qualifications to operate a moped. The examination fee and license fee for a moped license are the same as for a Class C license. The operation of a motorized bicycle or motorized scooter requires a valid license or learner’s permit.
Maine also requires auto insurance for both motorcycles and mopeds and scooters.
Liability for Maine Moped Accidents
After dealing with the immediate aftermath of a moped crash, injured people or survivors of victims who were killed should seek counsel from an experienced personal injury or wrongful death attorney.
You may be covered under your own insurance plan as a moped operator, or you may seek damages from another motorist who struck you if you can show they were primarily at fault for the crash. Moped passengers or pedestrians struck by a moped may be entitled to compensation under the owner/operator’s insurance or possibly their own uninsured/underinsured motorist coverage.
If you were traveling for work at the time of the crash, you may be entitled to workers’ compensation coverage.
There are often numerous avenues of compensation worth considering, especially in cases in which injuries were severe or fatal. The important thing is not to wait because the window of time to act may be shorter than you realize.
If you are a victim of a traffic accident, contact Peter Thompson & Associates at 1-800-804-2004 for a confidential consultation to discuss your rights.
Scooter & Moped Registration, Maine Bureau of Motor Vehicles