Can You Drive a Scooter on the Highway in California?

Can You Drive a Scooter on the Highway in California?

E-scooters are not an appropriate form of transportation on California highways (as opposed to bike lanes or low-speed local roads). On the other hand, a gas-powered scooter with a minimum motor displacement of 150 cubic centimeters (cc) is legal for highway travel in the state.  

In either case, wearing a helmet is important for protecting yourself from serious injury. Obeying the law and following common-sense guidelines will help to keep you safe, no matter what type of scooter you ride. 

Not all scooters are created equal  

The purpose of the law is to protect human life and property. This includes preventing people from taking foolish actions that endanger themselves and other members of the public. 

To use an extreme example, no state permits its residents to operate a foot-pedal bicycle on an interstate highway. Not only would this expose the cyclist to serious danger, but it would also put the surrounding motorists at risk as well. 

Yet the fact remains that we live in a highly mobile society. Motor vehicles are an essential part of most of our lifestyles. For this reason, California law does permit some scooter users to access state highways under certain strict conditions. These include: 

  • When the engine meets the minimum size and power requirements: In California, this means having a gasoline-powered motor with a minimum displacement of 150-cc.  
  • When the operator has an M1 motorcycle license: This is because scooters with 150-cc motors or larger are considered motorcycles in California. This type of license is not required for low powered e-scooters, however. 
  • When the operator has a DOT approved helmet: Wearing a helmet is always recommended, whether you’re riding a gas-powered scooter or a rechargeable electric model. Otherwise, you’re putting yourself at risk for a concussion or even traumatic brain injury (TBI). 

As for e-scooters specifically, limiting their use to authorized low-speed areas such as bike lanes is more than sound safety advice. It can also help your Los Angeles scooter accident lawyer to build a strong case on your behalf, just in case you’re injured.  

Using scooters safely and never pushing them past their limits not only reflects well on your character, but it will also give you an edge should your case end up in court. The legal system is reluctant to award damages to injury victims unless it’s clear that they took reasonable steps to safeguard themselves before their accident. 

What to do if you’re hurt in a scooter accident 

Of course, sometimes all the precautions in the world are not enough to prevent a scooter accident from occurring. This is true whether you are riding a gas-powered model or a smaller electric one. After all, you have no control over the actions of another person. 

Should you find yourself injured due to the negligence or carelessness of others, the steps you take next could determine how the rest of your life will turn out. Here are some tips with that in mind: 

  • Keep your cool: Giving in to anger or fear will impair your ability to deal rationally with the situation. 
  • Move the scooter out of traffic and to a safe area if possible: Ask emergency responders or bystanders to help you. 
  • Document the accident as best you can: Videos, photos, witness interviews, and notes that were taken at the scene of the accident can all play a crucial role in proving your case later on. 
  • See a healthcare provider right away: Do this even if you believe you escaped the accident unhurt. It can take days for injuries and other accident-related health problems to become apparent. Why take a chance when you don’t have to? 
  • Talk to a qualified Los Angeles personal injury law firm: Only a qualified California scooter accident attorney can judge whether you have a viable case for seeking compensation. Gambling on insurance companies to do the right thing can set you up for years of medical and financial problems. 

The attorneys here at Ellis Injury Law have recovered millions of dollars for our clients over the years. Put our skills to work for you by getting in touch with our office today. We’re available 24/7 for your convenience.