Measure targets scooter-rider age

Dee aims to define 'parental supervision'

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 27 2004 12:00 a.m. MST

A Utah lawmaker wants to restrict anyone younger than 8 years in riding motorized scooters, hoping a bill could curb the rising regularity of injuries related to the popular vehicles.

HB208 is scheduled for a hearing today before the House Transportation Committee, and the bill's sponsor, Rep. Brad Dee, R-Ogden, calls the piece of legislation a "no brainer."

Under current state law, a simple note from Mom or Dad could satisfy the requirement of parental supervision for any child operating a motorized scooter.

That needs to change, Dee says.

"I certainly don't want to be Big Brother, but anytime you're using a motorized scooter, you have some responsibilities," he said.

His proposal would prohibit anyone under the age of 8 from operating a motorized vehicle on public property, unless he or she is within view of a parent or guardian.

The American Academy of Pediatricians and the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission both recommend 12 as the youngest age anybody should attempt to operate a motorized vehicle.

Urbanscooters.com CEO Frank Minero agrees. His company is an online retailer of motorized scooters and has nothing to do with Dee's bill.

"We like to leave that decision up to parents, but 8 years old is too young to ride a motorized scooter. At that age, kids should be riding push scooters to work their way up," he said.

"I watched an 8-year-old girl crash her scooter and get hurt pretty badly twice in the course of a few weeks. I said to myself then, 'This girl is going to kill herself,' and after checking with some emergency room supervisors, I realized this is a bill we need," Dee said.

Last year, Primary Children's Medical Center treated 26 scooter-related injuries, while releasing 78 more kids after treatment in the ER, said Kris Hansen, the hospital's trauma program manager.

But Dee says children can still enjoy their wheels, even when the motor is running.

"This bill merely defines what 'parental supervision' means," he said.


E-mail: abenson@desnews.com