The differences between cars and scooters are easy to spot: scooters are small, don’t go nearly as fast, and leave the driver vulnerable to the elements and to greater bodily harm during a collision. Cars, on the other hand, dominate the road. When it comes to scooter-car collisions, the car almost always wins. Though a car may sustain some repairable damage, the scooter driver typically faces worse consequences.
Whether motorized scooters have been in your city for a while as a main mode of transportation for citizens, or you have recently seen an influx of them around thanks to companies like Lime, Bird, and Jump, you should be aware of the ways which scooters and cars can live harmoniously on the same roads. Just as vehicles should share the road with cyclists and pedestrians, drivers should make room for scooters.
Please note that cities often have different laws and ordinances when it comes to smaller motorized and electric scooters, so be sure to check with your local government for all of the up to date rules of the road.
Tips for Car Drivers
Check blind spots often
Scooters can more easily weave through slow traffic. Even though it isn’t always smart to weave between cars, many do and see it as a benefit to driving a smaller vehicle. Make sure to always check your blind spots before turning or switching lanes. Because a scooter is so small, it can be missed easily if you just check mirrors. Be especially cautious in situations where you turn right; a scooter may be to the right of you with plans to go straight.
Pass with caution
Hastily whipping around a scooter may lead to hitting or clipping the scooter. It is likely that the scooter is going as fast as it can in the given conditions, and there is no need to tailgate or drive aggressively behind a scooter. This just creates a dangerous situation. Pass with care, and give the scooter as much room as you can. Also, be mindful that scooters often need to swerve slightly to avoid obstacles in the road.
Be more aware in inclement weather
Just because a person is on a scooter doesn’t mean that they don't need to get where they are going. Scooter drivers will also drive in rainy conditions, but it is far more dangerous for them. They are exposed to the elements and road conditions may make it easier to fall over. Be especially cautious when passing-- sometimes cars can send a wave of water towards a scooter with enough force to knock it over.
Don’t always assume their actions
With the influx of rentable electric scooters, there are more and more scooter drivers without proper training on the road. This can create confusing situations for both scooter drivers and those behind the wheels of cars. Some scooters follow pedestrian signals while others use vehicle traffic signals. The key is to never assume that a scooter will act or react in a certain way. If you are unsure as to their next move, give them an appropriate amount of space.
Tips for Scooter Drivers
Learn how the scooter works
A busy street is not the place to learn the ropes of your pro scooter. Practice accelerating, steering, balancing, and braking in an area free from obstacles and other cars, such as an empty parking lot. Once you are comfortable with all the ins and outs of operation, work your way up from streets with less traffic to busier areas.
If you are renting a scooter through an app but are familiar with scooters, always do a quick check and overview of the breaks and steering to make sure everything is in proper working order. Check tires to ensure that they are properly inflated and not worn. You don’t want to take off only to find out down the road that the brakes aren’t working properly.
Stay in your lane
Scooters often go a lot slower than cars. In the case of electric scooters, always stay in the bike lane, if possible. This gives cars the opportunity to pass you safely without holding up traffic behind them. If there is no bike lane, stick to the right side of the right-hand lane.
Take extra care in inclement weather
Unlike a car driver that sits nice and cozy in a stable 4 wheeled vehicle, a scooter is exposed to the elements, whether it be rain, sleet, high winds, or extreme heat. Always be sure to prepare for and take into account the weather when taking off on your scooter. For example, if your normal route goes through an area that floods often, consider an alternate path if it has been raining heavily. In some situations, like frequent lightning, it is always best to sit out the storm and wait until the dangerous conditions pass.
Wear protective gear
Even though we can try our best to prevent them, accidents do happen. At that point, the only thing we can do is protect our bodies. At the very least, a helmet should be worn to protect the head from brain injury. If you want to go the extra step, elbow and knee pads protect areas most vulnerable to getting scraped and bumped.
Follow street signage
Just because you are on a scooter doesn’t give you permission to blow past stop signs. You should follow all street signs unless otherwise noted. Again, some laws vary from city to city, so be sure to check with your local city and state governments to get the most up to date laws that apply to you.