Several factors make Hawaii an ideal place for moped riders. Hawaii has some of the highest gasoline prices in the U.S., so mopeds offer a highly economical transportation alternative. Year-round mild weather is also ideal for moped riders. Because Hawaii has very few interstate highways, most of Hawaii’s roadways are accessible to mopeds. Mopeds are also an economical alternative for tourists, many of whom opt for a moped rental over renting a more expensive automobile. And with the high cost of parking in Honolulu in particular, mopeds are becoming increasingly attractive.
As moped sales have increased in recent years, so have the amount of injuries and fatalities reported.
However, the things which make mopeds a popular transportation alternative also make them far more dangerous than a conventional automobile. The fuel economy mopeds afford comes primarily from their diminutive size, which makes them vulnerable in a collision. Indeed, a moped and its rider will sustain far more damage in a collision with an automobile than the automobile.
A man in his 40’s was seriously injured on February 21, while riding on Moanalua Freeway. As recently as January 26, 2013, a teenage moped rider was killed in a collision with an automobile. A bill currently in the Hawaii senate requires riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet to prevent traumatic brain injuries. Queen’s Medical Center reports that less than 40% of riders admitted were wearing a helmet at the time of the collision
Some of the enjoyment of riding a moped comes from their “open-air” orientation. But that exposure means that the rider has virtually no protection in a collision other than what they are wearing. Even in a minor collision or fall, the rider is certain to come into contact with the road surface.
Many state highways are accessible to mopeds, which means that moped riders can ride at top speed over long distances. The chance of an accident at higher speeds is therefore increased, and the damage to the moped and the rider is increased.
Because of the increased risk of injury while riding a moped, riders should be careful to take every safety precaution. Certainly, the most important safety measure a moped rider can take is to wear a properly rated safety helmet. Riders should be aware of all laws and safety measures involved.