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how to ride a scooter: 5 scooter safety tips

While your Vespa may seem tame compared to the average motorcycle, the truth is the 2 have more in common than you might think. From safety gear to road rules, scooterists both new and seasoned can benefit from brushing up on the basics when it comes to riding a scooter.

Whether you're hopping on a scooter for the first time or simply trying to break some bad riding habits, these scooter safety tips will help you get the most out of your favorite pavement pal.

1. Get to know your ride like it's your best friend

Riding a scooter is going to take some getting used to. The more you practice, the more experienced (and safe) you'll become. We suggest reading through your owner's manual to become familiar with the parts and controls on your scooter, as well as maintenance schedules and more.

Remember to check your state's laws regarding scooter riding. Some models aren't allowed on high-speed freeways, for example, so it's best to do some research to avoid any trouble on the roadways.

Learn how to brake properly, applying the front and rear brakes at the same time. Do so confidently but not hard enough to lock up either tire, which can cause skidding and slow your stopping time. Make sure to keep your handlebars straight.

2. Play it safe: take a motorcycle or scooter safety course

As much as we'd like to believe we're pro riders the moment we first hop onto a scooter, well, we're not. But we can learn from the pros when we take a scooter safety course. The Motorcycle Safety Foundation (MSF) offers introductory riding and safety classes at an affordable price, and sometimes even your local DMV will have programs.

Not only will you be safer and more prepared once you get out on the road, but you can also score a discount on your scooter insurance policy when you take an approved safety course.

Scooters can be much more demanding on riders than cars or trucks. Don't get on your scooter if you're under the influence of drugs or alcohol, recovering from the previous night, tired, or emotional.

3. Have a good idea of your (and others') blind spots

All it takes is someone opening their car door on your right-hand side to bring you and your scooter crashing down.

Be completely vigilant at all times, constantly scanning the road with your eyes. Practice recognizing obstacles that might obstruct your view of other motorists, as well as obstacles that might block another motorist's view of you.

The MSF's SEE strategy is a good rule of thumb:

  • Search around you for potential hazards
  • Evaluate any possible hazards, such as turning cars, railroad tracks, etc.
  • Execute the proper action to avoid the hazard.

If you want to pass another motorist, don't rely solely on your mirrors. Turn your head and quickly make sure there are no vehicles in your blind spot.

4. Riding a scooter with a passenger

If you thought riding your scooter was enjoyable by yourself, it can be even more fun with a friend. But it's also important to keep certain safety precautions in mind to make sure you both reach your destination unscathed.

First things first: make sure your scooter is designed to carry a passenger; the seat should fit 2 people and there should be footrests for both riders. Your passenger should be wearing the same protective gear as you are, as they face the same risks.

Remember that added weight on your scooter requires a couple things:

  • That you adjust the tire pressure and suspension to accommodate the added weight of your passenger (it's recommended that you check your owner's manual for this)
  • That you give yourself more time to brake (more weight equals slower stopping time)

Never carry someone side-saddle. Your passenger should always be seated with their entire body facing forward, feet positioned securely in the foot rests. Advise your passenger not to put their feet down when you come to a stop, as this can cause you to lose your balance. Also tell your passenger not to let their body or protective gear come in contact with hot parts, like a muffler.

Passengers should hold onto your waist or hips, leaning forward slightly when you accelerate or leave from a stop. When you brake, have your passenger firmly hold onto your waist or hips and lean back a little so their weight doesn't shift forward. Your passenger should only lean when you lean (and it's important that they do).

The MSF recommends practicing in a safe parking lot before hitting the open road.

5. Protect yourself and your ride with reliable scooter insurance

A study by the University of Florida found that more than 90 percent of Florida riders involved in scooter or moped crashes were uninsured.

Most states require basic liability insurance to legally ride a scooter or moped, and you can always add additional coverages that give you extra financial protection if an accident happens.

Protect yourself, your passengers, and your ride with reliable coverage by getting a free scooter insurance quote.

Related links

How to avoid aggressive drivers
Learn more about how to avoid and defuse road rage situations.

Night driving
Read up on how darkness affects drivers and what you can do to stay safe.

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