New Florida bill pushes for helmets for younger scooter riders

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FLORIDA -- (WTVY) New legislation would require scooter riders under the age of 21 to wear helmets on Florida's roads, expanding a helmet mandate that already applies to young riders of traditional motorcycles.
Scooters, which boast low-powered motors that don't allow them to exceed 30 miles per hour on level ground, are becoming increasingly popular on college campuses. Not only are they inexpensive to buy and operate, but they can also maneuver around densely-packed areas with much more ease than cars.

But some students worry their scooters could become significantly less utilitarian if they were forced to wear helmets, as the legislation (SB 346) would mandate.

"I'm more realistic in that I have a maybe five-minute commute to campus from where I live," said FSU senior Michael Kowalski. "It's stop-and-go traffic, maybe 30 miles an hour max. I don't really get in that many situations where I've felt endangered."

The bill's introduction comes less than a year after a measure to reinstate Florida's across-the-board motorcycle helmet ban failed to gain traction in Tallahassee. The ban was repealed in 2000, allowing riders over 21 years old to ditch their headgear.

Motorcyclist groups, livid that some lawmakers were attempting to revisit the issue, launched an aggressive and ultimately successful campaign to defeat the measure.

With Florida motorcyclist deaths having shot up by 30 percent since 2015, supporters of the new bill are hopeful it could both save lives and encourage expansion of the state's now-limited helmet laws.

Not that younger riders plan to be any less aggressive than their older cohorts in voicing their opposition.

"Children should wear helmets because it's a good idea and they're more clumsy," Kowalski said. "But, at this point, we're adults and, you know, maybe it's not the best choice, but it's my choice."