Electric Scootin' Around in Greenwood, Mississippi

Electric scooters popular Christmas present, but parents urged to teach children safety rules

Published: 30-Dec-2003

Christmas has come and gone, and motorists now have a new concern on the streets of Greenwood - motorized scooters.

Many children received these fun, zippy little gadgets for Christmas, and they seem to be everywhere these days.

Several companies make scooters, and some are gas-powered, but the majority of those cruising the streets are electric. The toys can run anywhere from $150 to $600 and can hit speeds of 10 to 30 mph.

Sissy Smith, whose two children both received electric scooters for Christmas, does admit they do have rules for the children to follow when it comes to street safety.

"My kids have never worn helmets, but I do plan on getting them some now," Smith said. "But, you know, it's like wearing seatbelts. Not everybody wears them, but we know we are supposed to."

Smith said that her children are limited to staying within about one block of their house when riding their scooters.

"A few months ago, I asked a policeman about the scooters," Smith said. "At that time, he said he really wouldn't consider them motorized vehicles, but now I'm hearing differently. But, you know, you can go just as fast on a bicycle as you can on some of these scooters."

Greenwood Police Chief Ronnie White said he knew a lot of area children would be getting scooters for Christmas, and he and his staff discussed the issue a few days ago.

"They are classified as motorized vehicles, and that means that they are supposed to have inspection stickers, a license plate and a driver who possesses a driver's license," White said. "But, are we going to go out and snatch them up and take them downtown? No."

White said he did get some calls from parents before Christmas wanting to know the laws regarding scooters.

"We want to encourage the parents to teach their kids about safety and about being cautious. But, we don't think it's right to penalize a child for something they know nothing about," White said. "We are leaving it up to the parents to teach their children about responsibility. Of course, we encourage the kids not to get out in the streets, but we know that's going to happen. We just want to encourage the kids not to dart out in front of cars and to pay attention."

White said his patrolmen will stop a child if they see something unsafe.

"We would also let their parents know about it as well," White said.

White is considering holding a class on scooter safety, much like a bicycle safety class.

"Maybe down the road, we might want to do something like a scooter safety class. It's something we're looking at."

"I know that if my son rides his scooter through a stop sign and a car hits him, it's not the car's fault. It's my son's fault," said Kelly Sykes, whose son, Maury, received a scooter for Christmas. "I think the parents need to take a proactive role when it comes to these scooters."

"We as parents do need to oversee things when it comes to our children's safety," Smith added.

"I would hate to see a child get badly hurt before the parents realize the dangers these scooters can pose," White said.

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