The scooter boom and people’s irresponsibility


By: Diana Bello Aristizábal

Para leer en Español


Electric scooters are a great transportation alternative in today’s tight economy. However, the accidents reported with them in several communities across Miami-Dade, Broward, and Palm Beach, including Doral, have made something clear: to have them on the streets safely, we need regulation, education, and responsibility.

The problem is that’s not actually happening. While scooters didn’t arrive recently, a large number of users are not currently following the laws related or taking safety measures so that no one gets hurt.

In Doral alone, four accidents have already been reported in 2024. The last one took place on Thursday, March 21 in the intersection of Northwest 66th Street and 107th Avenue, leaving two people hospitalized who are now safe. A 16-year-old teenager in Cooper City, Broward, who was driving a scooter wasn’t as lucky and died after getting hit by a car on March 18.

Cases like these seem to be multiplying on the streets, especially those involving minors. In September 2023, three accidents were reported in a time span of 24 hours in which children riding scooters or electric bicycles were injured in the Village of Key Biscayne, in Miami-Dade County.

The incidents prompted the issuance of an emergency order in February 2024 that states all electric bicycles and motorized scooters are prohibited on Village streets and sidewalks, excluding Crandon Boulevard.



Knowledge, caution, and regulation

In light of the latest events, concerns are growing in Doral and residents are wondering if the situation will improve or accidents will have to continue happening for the public to start changing its behavior and, thus, streets are safer.

According to Florida Statutes, the operator of a motorized scooter is not required to own a registration, auto insurance or a driver’s license and their actions are limited. This means, scooter riders are not allowed, for example, to be on a highway. It’s their duty, and that of parents and guardians, to learn everything that involves taking this vehicle out onto the street and complying with the laws.

“If you’re a parent who is going to allow your child to operate a motorized scooter, be responsible and make sure they wear a helmet, have a light on at night and know they don’t have the right of way like a pedestrian. Both children and adults should be more alert, not use their cell phones and watch for pedestrian crossings on sidewalks,” says Mayor Christi Fraga in an interview with Doral Family Journal.

She also encourages car drivers to report to the police when a scooter operator is not complying with the law. “You can say, for example, that you just saw a scooter on X highway and the police will send an officer to the scene because that is not only against state laws but very dangerous.”

Not knowing or not applying laws like those mentioned is what triggered the accident in Doral on March 21. “Two minors were riding a scooter, which is illegal and obviously made it easier for them to lose balance and fall,” the mayor explains.

What is the city doing to mitigate the problem? In this regard, Fraga mentioned more than a year ago a study was carried out to improve traffic in the Landmark community, part of the intersection where the accident occurred, due to the large volume of complaints received about speeding. This has already been sent to the county and once approved, it will go to a bidding process to begin its construction and final works.

But aside from this project, the local government has been deploying educational campaigns to encourage the proper use of scooters. “We are doing everything in our power, and I have asked the city attorney to study the possibility of banning scooters in our city for minors to ask approval from Miami-Dade because they are the ones who act more recklessly.”

Fraga says Key Biscayne was able to pass a ban of this nature due to the fact most of its roads belong to them, except Crandon Boulevard, and not to the county, which is the opposite case for Doral. However, she doesn’t believe a ban for the general public is a good solution.

“People need them. By the way, every day there are more accidents on the roads caused by cars than by scooters, so are we going to ban cars too?” the mayor says, adding the key is to educate and impose severe penalties to law breakers. “I think we should harshly fine adults who carry small children on scooters. That’s like putting them in a car without a child seat.”

At the state level, minors are not banned from operating scooters. Due to this, through the city attorney, it’s being evaluated whether or not it can be done in our municipality considering preemption laws.

While all of this develops, the mayor states police officers are on the streets actively enforcing existing laws. “If, for example, they see a minor on a scooter without a helmet, they pull them over and call their parents.”

For positive changes to be seen in the long run, residents must do their part by not only following the laws but also sending emails to state legislators and senators expressing their concerns about the issue so that laws at the state level are stricter.


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