Once you get comfortable on your scooter, you may find yourself in a situation where you’d like to jump on the highway. Maybe it’s the quickest route you’ve been skipping for the backroads up until now, or maybe you’re just feeling adventurous. Are scooters allowed on highways, though?
Scooters that have a 50cc sized motor will not reach a legal speed to drive on a highway. Those in the 150cc range CAN reach 60 mph, but they are not designed to do so for long. When you move beyond the 250cc motor size, then the speed of your scooter will allow you to go highway speeds safely.
While certain scooters are permitted on highways, it is critical to understand how your individual scooter’s power, your experience on the scooter, and the characteristics of the highway should factor into your decision on whether you should travel on the highway. If you haven’t bought your scooter yet, here’s my take on the best scooter for highway specific riding.
Before we get into the regulations, it is important to understand the difference between a moped and a scooter. Mopeds have motors that are 50cc or less and generally travel at top speeds of 30 miles per hour (mph). Scooters are over the 50cc threshold generally with an automatic transmission. Most states have laws that restrict mopeds from driving on highways. However, even if it isn’t a law, traveling with a moped on a highway would be insane. No matter where you are driving, you need to be able to keep pace with other vehicles, as well as be able to add a little oomph to get out of a jam, as well.
Many states do allow scooters that are above 150cc to enter a freeway as they can maintain 55 mph speeds. You will want to know the speed limit of the freeway as you will likely be traveling slower than other vehicles if the speed limit is any higher, and a wide variance in speed between vehicles is a significant contributor to accidents.
If your scooter has a 250cc or higher, then you are legal and should be quite comfy on a highway from the perspective of what your scooter can handle. At this level, you’ll just want to take a look at the safety considerations before making the move onto higher speed risks.
Safety Considerations if You Have the Right Scooter to Get on a Freeway
Assuming you’re experienced with driving already, you likely understand that driving on a highway takes a different set of skills than you use when driving to the local drugstore. You’re traveling at higher speeds, you have traffic entering and exiting the freeway, and you need to be conscious of your lane position along with where you are in relation to the vehicles in the lane immediately next to you all while working to avoid riding in a blind spot of one of those neighbors. Those are the standard automobile considerations, but on a scooter, you have a few more to layer into your thought processes.
- When an 18 wheeler passes you, it is like an air blast.
- Air blasts from crosswinds come into play.
- Travel at 70 mph, and you’ll find why wind gets 3 bullet points here.
- Your tires are smaller, and you only have 2. This makes you less stable than most of the other traffic on the highway.
Limit Your Risk
There are risks associated with driving on a freeway. However, there are some options to help you keep you safe as you move into this higher speed territory.
A major cause of accidents is the speed differences between a slower moving vehicle and other drivers. A car coming up behind you may not see you in time to slow down. Knowing this, you can work to be as visible as possible. Make sure the lights on your scooter are bright, and you could add in other lights. Another option would be lights that flash such as those when you are applying your brakes to alert drivers behind you that you’re slowing down. In addition, you can make sure to wear bright gear. One last option to help your visibility would be to wear gear or add some art to your scooter that contains some type of reflective elements. Currently, my jacket has reflective strips, I have reflective dragon vinyl decals on my helmet, and my license plate has my scooter’s name in reflective vinyl.
In general, steer clear of riding in the far left lane. The rule of thumb is that slower traffic should be in the right lanes, and the speed demons aren’t as likely to be aggressive or sneak up on you if you give them the space to use the passing lane.
Debris on a highway is commonplace, so you will need to be prepared. To combat this problem, you’ll need to be used to scanning farther ahead to identify problems as early as possible. Then, you’ll want to be comfortable with higher speed maneuvering and emergency braking to make it through the situation safely. Evading truck tire debris safely or preparing to hit a piece of lumber in the roadway is complicated at higher speed, so you will seriously want to be prepared for these situations.
Also, consider the state of the road you plan to ride on. A poorly maintained road with potholes and a speed limit of 70 mph could spell disaster or at the very least be an uncomfortable ride. The condition and speed of the highway play into how safe or in danger you will feel.
Always be aware of where you are in the lane and in relation to blind spots of your neighbors. Along the same lines, make sure to leave yourself room between your scooter and other vehicles. Both will give you a buffer to perform evasive maneuvers if needed.
Lastly, healthy confidence on the highway will help prevent panicking as events unfold on a highway. One way to develop some confidence on a highway would be to try early morning weekend hours to venture out. This gives you an opportunity to gradually expose yourself to the type of riding you will encounter with fewer vehicles to contend with.
What Alternatives Do You Have to Help you Avoid the Highways?
Whether your scooter is not highway safe, your mental state is not highway safe, or you just prefer the idea of cruising along without the stress of highways, you have some options to avoid them altogether.
Regardless of the app, you use for directions, each has ways to turn off traveling on freeways. That will keep you from even seeing the freeway as an option each time you hit the pavement.
If you are not using an app to help you navigate, a good rule of thumb would be to avoid cities. The larger the city, the more likely you’ll have to enter a freeway.
Another option would be stay on a feeder to a highway, or sometimes you can find a road that runs parallel to the highway that should help you maintain lower speeds without the highway specific risks.
Feel that breeze and enjoy the open roads with less traffic by avoiding the highways, if you can!