Mopeds and Scooters Growing in Popularity as Injury and Death Rates for Mopeds Rise: Will Indiana Laws Change?

Mopeds and Scooters Growing in Popularity as Injury and Death Rates for Mopeds Rise: Will Indiana Laws Change?

This week in Indianapolis, the American Bikers Aimed Toward Education (ABATE) hosted a discussion about how to increase the safety of mopeds (low power motorcycles), scooters, and motorized bicycles in the State of Indiana, where ABATE argues Indiana law is not clear enough on protecting owners and riders of these vehicles from harm.

The “Scooter Summit” or “Moped Meeting” was held yesterday morning in Indianapolis at Speed City Cycle, 3464 W. 16th Street; the public was invited to participate in the discussions there, along with law enforcement agencies, insurance company representatives, and motorcycle (moped, scooter, motorized bicycle) dealers.

The question is: will Indiana law change to make it safer for mopeds to be on the roads here?

Mopeds Are Not Viewed the Same as Larger Motorcycles

A moped is considered to be light, easy to drive, and slow; a motorcycle is larger, requires a level of skill to operate; and is much more powerful. Mopeds or scooters serve a different purpose and usually have a different kind of driver: students, for example, often find mopeds to be economical and efficient forms of transportation around school campuses and college neighborhoods.

In the United States, each state defines and regulates these small vehicles differently. For example, as a general rule, states limit a moped’s top speed at 30 MPH although some hold moped legal speeds even lower, at 20-25 MPH.

Indiana law currently considers a moped as a motorized bicycle. However, ABATE is arguing for the Indiana lawmakers to rethink this perception and change the state law to recognize mopeds as low-speed motorcycles, giving them stricter legal requirements for driving and riding in order to make mopeds safer on Indiana roads.

Indiana Statutes For Mopeds

IC 9-21-11-12 – Motorized bicycles; prohibitions on operation; conditions:

Sec. 12. A motorized bicycle may not be operated under any of the following conditions:

(1) By a person less than fifteen (15) years of age.
(2) By a person who has not obtained an identification card under IC 9-24, a permit under IC 9-24, an operator’s license under IC 9-24, a chauffeur’s license under IC 9-24, or a public passenger chauffeur’s license under IC 9-24.
(3) On an interstate highway or a sidewalk.
(4) At a speed greater than twenty-five (25) miles per hour.

IC 9-21-11-13 – Persons under 18 years of age; operation of motorized bicycle; safety equipment

Sec. 13. A person less than eighteen (18) years of age who operates or rides a motorized bicycle on a street or highway shall do the following:
(1) Wear protective headgear meeting the minimum standards set by the bureau or a helmet that meets the standards established by the United States Department of Transportation under 49 CFR 571.218 in effect January 1, 1979.
(2) Wear protective glasses, goggles, or a transparent face shield.
As added by P.L.2-1991, SEC.9.

IC 9-21-11-14 – Violations; Class C infraction

Sec. 14. A person who violates this chapter commits a Class C infraction.

Motorcycle and Moped Injuries on the Rise

The National Institute of Health is collecting and publishing studies on the dangers to drivers of mopeds and scooters in the United States now that research has revealed that not only has there been a 20 year gap in the study of moped / scooter crash injuries in this country but that the last studies are over 20 years old. Meanwhile, these have become very popular modes of transportation with moped sales skyrocketing 60% over the past few years.

Using 2011 Florida data, the NIH recently published research from the University of Florida that found:

  • More than 90% of drivers involved in moped or scooter crashes were uninsured.
  • Only 17% of all drivers wore helmets.
  • Alcohol and drug use was a significant risk factor of severe and lethal crashes
  • Risk factors for increased severe or lethal injury were unpaved roads; driving speeds >20 mph; posted speed limits >30 mph major roadways with four or more lanes; and poor lighting conditions.

In Indiana last year, researchers at the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute found over a 5% increase in motorcycle and moped crashes in Indiana from the total crashes in 2011 and 2012. The CJI reports that:

“Moped operators and passengers were the fastest growing individual components of overall [Indiana] motorcycle collisions over both the 2008 to 2012 period and 2011 to 2012.”


Motorcycle accidents and moped crashes often result in serious injuries or wrongful death for their drivers and passengers.  Efforts to make the roads safer for mopeds, scooters, and motorized bicycles are welcomed – and needed.

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