Earlier this month a teenage boy on a mini bike was fatally injured when he was struck by an SUV in Roanoke. This tragedy could have been prevented. Mini bikes, which cater to children and teenagers, are not street-legal. They are only intended for recreational use, not as transportation on public roads. Sometimes called pit or pocket bikes, mini bikes differ from mopeds, with the latter being street-legal.
Two of the requirements to be classified as a moped are that the seat must be at least 24” off the ground and that the motor is no more than 50ccs (which may get you up to 35mph, over 35 mph is considered a motorcycle). Minibikes’ seats are lower than 24”, which can put the rider approximately at eye-level with a car’s bumper. This is incredibly dangerous because it is difficult for drivers to see mini bike riders. The motor of a mini bike can be as powerful as 120ccs (which may get you up to 50mph). Lastly, operating a mini bike does not require training or a license.
Hard-to-see size, fast speed, and youthful riders who may have no real experience or knowledge of driving regulations make for a bad combination on public roads. In the past four years, approximately 4,500 people under 18 were injured on mini bikes in Virginia alone. There have been 25 fatalities in the past 10 years, 15 of them due to a collision with a vehicle. Exercise due diligence when purchasing your children a toy as powerful as a minibike and make sure they, and anyone who has access to the mini bike, know how to operate it safely. As always, obey all laws to help prevent serious injury.