Maryland safety measures extended to mo-peds and scooters

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A new Maryland law requiring mo-peds and motor scooters to be titled and insured and for drivers to take extra safety precautions goes into effect next week.

Starting Oct. 1, people on mo-peds and scooters will be required to wear helmets and either put on goggles or install wind screens on their bikes. Additionally, each bike needs to have a sticker from the Motor Vehicle Administration certifying that it has been titled, and drivers must carry proof of insurance.

“We see them. They are everywhere,” said Greg Shipley, a spokesman for Maryland State Police. “Scooters can be driven on the roads and it can be very dangerous.”

Mo-peds are low-powered motorized bicycles and scooters are motorized with two wheels and no pedals.

From 2009 to 2012, there were about 1,300 crashes involving a scooter or mo-ped and another vehicle, MVA spokesman Buel Young said.

State police and MVA have been ramping up public awareness of the new law in recent weeks. Mr. Shipley said the state police will start by issuing warnings to riders who have no insurance coverage or title decals until the end of October.

Drivers who do not abide by the new law can receive steep fines. Drivers caught without acceptable helmets or goggles or a wind screen will be slapped with a $110 fine for each offense. Driving without insurance carries a $290 fine and lack of a title decal will cost drivers $70.

After Oct. 1, people buying the motorized bikes will pay a $20 title certificate fee and $5 for the required decal. Owners who purchased mo-peds and motor scooters before Oct. 1 will be exempt from the titling fee until Oct. 1, 2013.

According to the legislative analysis performed during the General Assembly session, there are about 3,500 motor scooters on Maryland roads. An average of 523 motor scooters were purchased in 2010 and 2011, according to Motorcycle Industry Council data, and 500 more are expected to be sold in 2013.

Another new law for all drivers in Maryland takes effect on Oct. 1. When approaching a nonfunctioning traffic light, drivers will need to stop and then make sure there are no pedestrians or oncoming cars in the intersection before proceeding. Officials said that while many Maryland drivers followed these guidelines, no law existed to codify them.

Violating the new law carries a $90 fine and two points on a driver’s license. If the vehicle is involved in a crash, the fine increases to $130 and three points.

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