QUESTION: With increasing gasoline prices, I don’t know what to do. My husband wants to go buy a motor scooter so we can cut back on using our SUV. We’ve never thought about this before, so we aren’t sure what is and is not street legal. Can you help?
ANSWER: The high cost of gasoline has everyone looking for new ways to cut back. I’m glad you contacted me before spending a significant amount of money on a new vehicle. Depending on the make, model and type of vehicle, you may not be legally permitted to drive it on the road—and that would be an even bigger waste of money.
Motor scooters are classified as motor vehicles under the Pennsylvania Vehicle Code. Unlike many conventional vehicles, motor scooters lack certain pieces of equipment such as fenders, turn signals, lights and tires which are suitable for highway use. Additionally, most motor scooters do not meet Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.
However, I suspect that what many consider a ‘scooter’ may actually be something entirely different and is probably street legal for your planned uses.
Vehicles such as mopeds, motor-driver cycles and motorcycles are operable in Pennsylvania, so I’d like to talk briefly about these. A moped is a small motorbike that does not operate at more than 25 miles per hour and features operable pedals with an automatic transmission. Mopeds, unlike other vehicles in Pennsylvania, do not require inspection.
The most basic rule of thumb to take into consideration is the presence of a certification label showing that the vehicle meets certain federal and state vehicle equipment requirements and standards. A 17-digit long Vehicle Identification Number is also affixed by the manufacturer to these scooters.
When properly registered, inspected and insured, these vehicles can be legally operated by a licensed driver. Also, it never hurts to ask the dealer or to do some extra research before making your purchase to make sure what you are looking at is street legal. Remember, saving money with your new vehicle is dependent on using it as a replacement for your SUV whenever possible. Also, for more information you can visit my Web site at RepSonney.com and click on ‘scooter requirements.’
As always, if you have any questions or concerns about this or another state-government related issue, please contact me or my district office staff. We are here for you and will help you in any way we can.
If you have a question you would like me to address in an upcoming column, please send it to:
Rep. Curt Sonney Room
149-B East Wing
P.O. Box 202004
Rep. Curt Sonney
Pennsylvania House of Representatives
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 24, 2008