From Sunday's Chicago Tribune:
A new economy class of motor scooters made in Asia is showing up in big numbers on roads across the U.S., offering frugal and fun transportation yet also prompting concerns that increases in crashes might be around the corner.
The street-legal scooters, many manufactured in China, Taiwan and India, are powered by engines ranging from only 50 cc to 150 cc, much less powerful than a motorcycle and easier to drive. Some scooters can reach speeds of 70 mph, although they are not permitted on highways.
Even with the current high gasoline prices, filling up a scooter costs about $5 and they go up to 100 miles per gallon.
Ownership is surprisingly affordable, too, as opposed to shelling out thousands of dollars for an Italian-made Vespa or Japanese brands. Some of the new models are priced well below $1,000 — less than the price of many good bicycles — reeling in first-time scooter buyers who never before fancied themselves as motorcyclists.
A troubling trend that experts are seeing is that many new scooter owners don’t bother to take safe-driving classes, figuring instead that if they can ride a bike and drive a car, they can operate a scooter.
But novice scooter drivers tend to have trouble keeping pace with traffic, making sure they are seen by other motorists, negotiating turns and handling emergency situations, safety experts say.
"We are seeing more people riding scooters in heavy traffic. You couple that with their lack of experience and motorists not sharing the road or seeing the scooter, and it’s a recipe for tragedy and death," said Mike Stout, director of traffic safety at the Illinois Department of Transportation.
The entire article can be found here.