On October 1, 2012, motor scooter and mo-ped operators will have new rules to follow. Maryland enacted a new law requiring drivers and passengers to wear motorcycle helmets that meet the safety standards provided by the United States Department of Transportation, and wear eye protection unless there is a windshield. The law also requires all scooters and mo-peds be titled and insured, with the title decal displayed on the rear of the vehicle.
These requirements were added to the existing law, which requires all operators of motor scooters and mopeds to possess a valid driver’s license, or for a mo-ped, possess a valid permit.
Maryland law enforcement is trained on the new laws and their requirements.
According to the Motor Vehicle Administration (MVA), a motor scooter is defined as having:
- a seat for the operator;
- two wheels, with one that is 10 or more inches in diameter;
- a step-through frame;
- a motor, which has a rating of 2.7 or less brake horsepower if it is an internal combustion engine, and with a capacity of 50 or less cubic centimeters piston displacement; and
- includes an automatic transmission.
A mo-ped is defined as having:
- mechanical pedals;
- two or three wheels, which are more than 14 inches in diameter; and
- a motor, which has a rating of 1.5 or less brake horsepower if it is an internal combustion engine, and with a capacity of 50 or less cubic centimeters piston displacement.
The same traffic laws that apply to bicyclists also apply to drivers of motor scooters or mo-peds. These laws include:
- driving a motor scooter or mo-ped as close to the right side of the road as possible;
- not using earplugs or a headset that covers both ears, except in certain circumstances;
- not operating a motor scooter on a public roadway with a posted maximum speed limit of 50 mph or more;
- not driving a scooter at a speed in excess of 30 mph; and
- using a bike lane or the shoulder unless the operator is:
- making a left turn;
- riding on a one-way street;
- passing a stopped or slow moving vehicle;
- avoiding pedestrians or road hazards;
- driving in a right turn only lane; or
- driving in a lane that is too narrow for a motor scooter or moped to be traveling safely with another motor vehicle.
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