Law to Crack Down on Motorized Scooters

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(Sacramento, CA)
Thursday, October 7, 2004
Outside the Capitol Scooters store in Citrus Heights, Abby Morris’ 18 year old son is test driving a top of the line, 700-dollar scooter. She says it’ll be a fun way for him to get around. He’s not driving on his own. We have one car for environment, economically all of that. So this way he can get around town on it. Is she concerned that the noise will disturb her neighbors? No. I mean, their dogs bark (laughs). I don’t have dogs or dogs barking so if his scooter bothers them, oh well. But if her neighbors do complain, they won’t be the only ones. Sacramento Police Sergeant Justin Risley says scooters take up a lot of their time. We have received quite a few complaints regarding these scooters. It’s a quality of life issue for people. Noise primarily, in addition to that is the way these scooters are ridden and we’ve actually written quite a few citations as of late for violations such as underage riders, people not wearing helmets, people riding the wrong direction on the roadway and of course the noise issue. Motorized scooters are usually equipped with a 2-cycle gasoline engine. Current law prohibits children under 16 from driving them. The bill Governor Schwarzenegger signed will put even more restrictions on scooters. Assemblywoman Wilma Chan wrote the bill with the intent, she says, of making them safer. The number of accidents on these scooters went up by more than 200-percent in one year, between 1999 and 2000 and there have been several deaths on these scooters, including two children. Under Chan’s bill, which becomes law on January 1st, riders will be required to have a California driver’s license or learner’s permit. It’ll also bans drivers from modifying tailpipes to make more noise. But Lee Gracia (GRAY-shah), the owner of Capitol Scooters, says Chan’s bill goes overboard. I think the law that we have now is sufficient. I don’t think we need a law to require people to be 16 years old and have a driver’s license. There’s a large majority of people who currently cannot get a driver’s license for whatever reason, maybe a DUI or maybe there’s a handicap and they need these to get around. This is their transportation. And Gracia doesn’t understand why the government isn’t endorsing scooters as an energy efficient option to gas guzzling vehicles. Scooters are an excellent form of alternative transportation that the government should be supporting. They have scooters available now that can go over 200 miles on a gallon of gas. The new law comes after complaints from numerous residents that riders often dart in and out of traffic, don’t have any driver training and modify the engines to make them louder. Police Sergeant Justin Risley says they welcome the new restrictions. We are always looking for new tools and resources and ways to deal with these complaints so if its legislation that helps us do that then we certainly support that. And how will the new law effect retailers? Gracia says he’s already seeing the fallout. Business when we first opened up a few years ago was really, really good. We were selling two to three scooters a day. Now, with the new changes and a little more enforcement from the police officers, business has been down to one or two scooters a week. But Gracia says he thinks people will continue to ride them with or without a drivers license Steve Milne - KXJZ news.