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For Immediate Release
December 2, 2004
Contact: Dan A. Gwadosky
207-626-8400

Secretary of State Encourages Caution and Knowledge of Law
When Purchasing ‘Pocket Bikes’ and other Motorized Scooters

AUGUSTA, MAINE – With the holiday shopping season underway, Secretary of State Dan A. Gwadosky encouraged Maine residents to familiarize themselves with state law and be mindful of all safety considerations when purchasing so-called “pocket bikes” or other small motorized vehicles.

Today’s message of caution is part of the Secretary of State’s ongoing public awareness campaign about pocket bikes and motorized scooters.  A consumer education initiative was launched in August to highlight the safe and lawful operation of motorized scooters and mopeds, as well as motorized bicycles and similar vehicles.

As part of that effort to raise awareness about laws pertaining to these increasingly popular vehicles, educational materials were mailed to businesses that sell them, and to law enforcement and public safety agencies.  The mailing included a handout which provides details about relevant provisions in Maine law.

Companies and agencies receiving the mailing were encouraged to share the information with those who purchase and operate these types of motor vehicles.  Additionally, materials have been displayed in all Bureau of Motor Vehicles offices throughout Maine .

“As parents and other adults consider the purchase of small motorized vehicles this holiday season, they should remember that current law requires a license to operate virtually all of them, including motorized scooters and mopeds, on any public way or in a public parking area.  Additionally, owners of mopeds and many motorized scooters need to know that these vehicles must be registered,” Secretary Gwadosky added.

In addition to ongoing public awareness efforts, Secretary Gwadosky has reviewed current laws and rules in order to determine if the requirements governing operation and registration of these vehicles should be changed or clarified in any way.  The review began in July and was conducted in cooperation with state and local public safety officials, as well as business operators and consumers.  Legislation is being submitted to further clarify which vehicles are permitted on Maine roads, and which are intended for off-road use only.

“Our efforts are designed to ensure that consumers have adequate information, that businesses have the necessary support and assistance, and that public safety is enhanced.  During this holiday season, we want to help Maine residents make well-informed choices based on knowledge of state law and common sense.  They are urged to read and strictly follow all safety warnings and guidelines associated with these vehicles,” Secretary Gwadosky concluded.

According to the American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA), certain models of pocket bikes lack basic safety features such as rearview mirrors, lights and turn signals.  AAMVA notes that the consumer safety group WATCH (World Against Toys Causing Harm--www.toysafety.org) has ranked Pocket Rocket Miniature Motorcycles as one of the worst toys for 2004. The Consumer Product Safety Council estimates that 2,345 people were seen in hospital emergency rooms for injuries relating to motorized mini-bikes in 2003.

Secretary Gwadosky outlined several final safety tips and reminders (printed below) and encouraged anyone with questions or comments to call the Bureau of Motor Vehicles at (207) 624-9000 extension 52145 or send them by e-mail to SOS.Office@maine.gov.

Pocket bikes should never be driven in traffic;
Because many of these vehicle types are very low to the ground, it is extremely difficult for motorists to see them;
Insurance policies may not cover accidents involving pocket bikes or similar vehicles that are often categorized as toys;
Adult supervision is strongly advised when children are operating pocket bikes;
Helmets should always be worn--AAMVA cites a study by the National Safe Kids Campaign, which indicates that less than half of children observed on wheeled vehicles wear a helmet.