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Motor Scooter Laws: Are Vespas and electric scooters considered motorcycles or bicycles?

electric scooters

According to motor scooter laws, Vespas and electric scooters aren’t necessarily considered bicycles or motorcycles. It depends upon various factors, such as horsepower. Under Pennsylvania rules of the road, these forms of transportation may be considered a motor-driven cycle or motorized pedalcycle. The classification may be considered by an accident lawyer handling an injury claim involving these vehicles.

Defining a Motor-Driven Cycle or Motorized Pedalcycle

According to motor scooter laws, motor-driven cycles are those with motors that don’t exceed five brake horsepower. So this could apply to a motorcycle or a motor scooter. Those who operate these types of vehicles must have a motorcycle plate and wear a helmet under Pennsylvania rules of the road.

There are exceptions to wearing a helmet. They include anyone 21 years and up who has completed a motorcycle rider safety course (which must be approved by the Motorcycle Safety Foundation or Pennsylvania Department of Transportation) or has had a motorcycle license for a minimum of two years.

Additionally, if a passenger meets one of these exceptions and is at least 21 years old, a helmet is optional.

A motorized pedalcycle (or moped):

  • has pedals, but with a motor of 1.5 brake horsepower or less;
  • has an automatic transmission;
  • has a cylinder capacity of 50 cubic centimeters or less; and
  • cannot go more than 25 miles per hour.

This also applies to electric motor-driven cycles.

Pennsylvania Rules of the Road for Riding a Motor Scooter

Not all motor scooters are valid for use on the roads. Under motor scooter laws, the driver must have the right kind of insurance and the scooter must be registered and titled. However, this can only be done if the scooter meets certain equipment requirements. There are strict equipment standards that must be met.

Some examples of equipment on a motor scooter that must adhere to these standards include:

  • handlebars;
  • brakes;
  • tires/wheels;
  • electrical systems/lighting;
  • mirrors;
  • speedometers; and
  • horns/warning devices.

Additionally, the motor scooter should have affixed to it a manufacturer’s certification label. It should note that applicable Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards have been met. The label should be close to the steering post with the handlebars, easily readable and on a permanent area of the scooter. If it’s not manufactured for use on a highway, it cannot be ridden.

Even when a motor scooter meets these motor scooter law requirements, an operator could run into challenges with being allowed to use it on roadways because of an inability to keep up with the flow of traffic.

If the speed of the scooter gets in the way of traffic flowing at a reasonable rate, it could be prohibited. It’s a violation of Pennsylvania rules of the road to drive too slowly unless there are conditions where it is warranted.

A Morrisville, PA Accident Lawyer Can Help If Vehicle Classification Is An Issue In An Injury Case

If in an accident involving one of these vehicles, liability may be affected by whether the operator of one of these vehicles was in compliance with laws regarding operation of motor scooters or bicycles. If considered in violation and negligent of safety rules, it could affect the case. An accident lawyer can evaluate the operator’s compliance with motor scooter laws and the details of the accident to help determine liability.