Are Scooters Safe?
Of course not! Unlike a car you don't have a steel cage around you, you don't have a seat belt and you don't have air bags. There are no "crumple" zones between you and what you hit and 4 wheels are more stable than two. Riding a scooter is like riding on the hood of your car.
Sure you will be wearing a helmet in most states (all states if you have any sense) and you may be wearing a jacket with shoulder elbow and back padding, but if you hit something (or something hits you), it's still going to hurt and you are likely to be injured. Gloves help, boots help and tough pants can prevent some skin abrassions, but you are soft and the pavement is hard.
Of course if you don't have an accident, you're safe by definition and most riders don't have accidents. The slower you are going the lower the chance of serious injury if you hit something too. At 30mph on a 50cc moped you may limp away. At 125mph on a 650cc Kawasaki Ninja you probably won't.
Here are some stats from Wikipedia:
According to the US Highway Safety Authority, in 2002 20.9 cars out of 100,000 ended up in fatal crashes. The rate for motorcycles is 66.7 per 100,000. 2004 figures from the Department for Transport in the UK indicate that motorcycles have 121 deaths or serious injuries per 100 million vehicle kilometers, compared to the corresponding figure of 2.6 for motorists. A national study by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATS) found that:
- Motorcycle rider death rates increased among all rider age groups between 1998 and 2000
- Motorcycle rider deaths were nearly 30 times more than drivers of other vehicles
- Motorcycle riders aged below 40 are 36 times more likely to be killed than other vehicle operators of the same age.
- Motorcycle riders aged 40 years and over are around 20 times more likely to be killed than other drivers of that age.
If course you can say that if "The (accident) rate for motorcycles is 66.7 per 100,000" you can also say that out of 100,000 motorcycle riders, 99,933.3 didn't have an accident, or that your chances of riding for a year without an accident in 2002 were 99.9333%. Accidents for scooters and motorcycles are usually lumped together, but rates for scooters are usually lower than for motorcycles, so your chances of not having an accident were even better for scooter riders.
The bottom line is that riding a scooter is indeed more dangerous than driving a car, but if you are sensible, know your limits and above all keep an eye out for motorists who simply don't see you, your chances of having an accident are still quite low. If you wear the right protective clothing, your chances of injury are lowered significantly.
The safest helmet: White, Full Face
Since most scooter accidents occur when a car hits you, and the major reason given for that is "I didn't see the scooter/motorcycle", riding with your lights on and wearing brightly colored clothing reduces your risk. The more visible you are, the better your chances of avoiding an accident. The traditional black motorcycle, black leather suit and black helmet aren't the safest combination. One study found that with reflective or fluorescent clothing the risk of a crash injury was reduced by 37%, with a white helmet by 24%, and with headlights by 27%. Be Safe - Be Seen!