State laws surrounding scooter and moped use in Virginia could soon get a whole lot tougher.
Right now, riders don't have to register their scooters. You don't even need a drivers or motorcycle license to ride one. Even some industry retailers want to see some changes.
At Tiremax in Henrico, managers say scooter sales are reaching its highest levels in years. Along with that trend come talks of regulation.
Owner Rick Maione says as gas prices rise, so do the number of customers running to his store with their eyes fixed on a new scooter.
"Gas mileage is one thing (for) a lot of people who have short commutes. It's a wonderful thing in the summer. They love the freedom of just getting on a scooter. Downtown parking, parking isn't as much of an issue," Maione said.
They've become so popular, thieves are targeting scooters. So much so, Maione says investigators visited him to work together on curbing the problem.
"Some of the Henrico investigators have come in and we went over different ways how to secure the scooter a little better," he said.
Besides the VIN number usually on record with the retailer, right now, there's no way to automatically track a scooter when it gets out of the owner's hands. So, there's talk of now requiring scooter and moped owners to register, title, and tag them.
Another component is safety, making it a statewide practice for drivers to wear helmets and eye protection.
"That should be a law (because) you're riding this vehicle at 30 to 35 mph. If you hit concrete, it's going to hurt without a helmet on," he said. "If they're titled and registered, it would make it a lot easier to trace those VINs and make sure that either what you're buying or what you're riding is not stolen for one and two, if it does get stolen, I think it would be easier to track it," Maione added.
It's not in his hands to make it happen, but the store owner wouldn't mind seeing lawmakers give it a second look for safety and security.
"Anything we can do to deter theft," he said.
This is an issue we will continue to follow as the General Assembly returns to session next month.
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