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With soaring gas prices, motorized scooters may seem like an attractive alternative for that quick commute to work. But as KSMU's Benjamin Fry reports, moped drivers may not be taking enough steps when it comes to safety.
For moped drivers, this is the sweet sound of glorious gas savings.
While these vehicles may seem like just smaller, slower versions of motorcycles, they are not subject to the same safety laws. Grant Story, spokesman for the Springfield Police Department, says unlike motorcycle drivers, moped drivers are not required to wear helmets.
"Under the law if the vehicle they're riding does not meet the requirements to be a motorcycle, and that's related to speed and engine size, then they don't fall under that requirement to wear a helmet," Story said.
But Story says this doesn't mean driving a moped is any safer than a motorcycle.
"Any time you get hit and you're on a moped, your chances are even less than on a heavy motorcycle," Story said.
In Springfield, Story says about half of the moped drivers he sees are not sporting helmets.
Drivers tend to not wear helmets on neighborhood streets, where speeds are lower and traffic is sparse.
But he says lower speeds don't replace the safety that a helmet provides.
"Even coming to a dead stop at 30 miles an hour on a moped, say if you hit the side of a van or a car or something of that nature can be a deadly accident. So just because the speed is lower does not mean that it's safe to not wear a helmet. It's never really safe to be on a vehicle like that without a helmet," Story said.
Moped owners are required to have a driver's license, but not a motorcycle license which means many are missing out on training to drive a small motorized vehicle.
Story urges drivers to take safety precautions as if they were operating a motorcycle.
For KSMU news, I'm Benjamin Fry.