Scooters: A growing danger in a top Florida hot spot
WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) —
A quick weekend getaway to Key West could end-up costing you more than a few bucks; It could cost you your life.
Just last month, tragedy struck when a beloved Delray Beach police officer died in a scooter accident there.
CBC12 Investigates found accidents involving scooters happen almost every single day.
PROBLEM IN PARADISE
While Key West is a tiny island, it has a big personality, and tourists come for an escape from reality that for some visitors means shedding four wheels for just two.
Key West resident Eric Walzer knows the routine.
"They're cut lose on the tight streets of Key West," he said.
And, it doesn't take much to rent a scooter there.
All you need is a credit card, a driver's license and you must be at least 18 years-old.
Getting around in paradise has its price.
CBS12 Investigates uncovered nearly a crash a day over the last three years involving scooters.
According to documents we obtained from the Key West Police Department, 940 people crashed, of which 689 people were hurt and tragically six died.
It all happened on an island just 4.2 square miles.
Jerald Long’s ride in Old Town Key West ended when he crashed his scooter.
He broke his arm and got seven stitches.
"I remember trying to find the right position to hit the ground," he said.
And in April, a vacation turned deadly at a busy Key West intersection where beloved and well respected Delray Beach Police Officer Christine Braswell lost her life in a scooter crash.
Fellow officer Bernenda Marc survived the impact.
The driver accused of hitting the two women, Lacy Morris, is now charged with DUI manslaughter.
We went on a ride-along with Key West Police Officer Joseph Stockton.
Within minutes, we came upon a scooter accident.
A woman became a statistic when she crashed her scooter in a parking lot.
Officer Joseph Stockton said scooter operators are usually not at fault but instead distracted drivers are to blame.
"People ride motor vehicles, cars and trucks a lot of times don't see the scooters," he said.
And because scooters are not considered motorcycles, drivers are not required to have insurance and Florida has no helmet law.
The difficult fix could be 600 miles north of Key West in Tallahassee.
Officer Stockton said, "I think it has to come down from the state whether changing the laws of being able to register these mopeds or scooters, or requiring them to have insurance or even having them wear a helmet."