Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner
Miniature motorcycles, also referred to as pocket bikes, mini bikes or mini motos, are growing in popularity among children, teens and even some adults. They are frequently marketed as toys and are considered the exciting new joy-ride. These little bikes only sit about 16 to 20 inches high and are powered by a lawnmower type engine, but they can achieve speeds up to 70 miles per hour. They are also extremely dangerous and are illegal to drive on the street.
As the popularity of these motorized mini bikes increases, so do the traffic hazards created by them. To ride one of these small bikes, the driver sits in a contorted position only inches above the pavement, eyes level with regular-sized vehicle bumpers. Police classify them as motorcycles in order to issue citations, but they include none of the required safety features for highway vehicles, such as brake lights, red rear reflectors, mirrors, turn signals, horns, approved tires. They cannot be licensed or registered.
According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, “One Internet sales pitch claimed that ‘kids as young as 4 years old have successfully learned to ride the less powerful models,’ and other ads aggressively market the motorized bikes to the 4- to 8-year-old crowd and to enthusiasts seeking ‘an extreme feel of the road. Some advertisements contain safety alerts and warn that the vehicles may not be driven legally on public highways — but others do not.”
If you are considering a purchase of a minibike, stop first and think about the dangers of riding around perched on top of a lawn mower. That’s fairly close to how a min bike ride on a highway would be. During the past month, a 17-year-old was killed in Virginia while illegally riding a mini bike on a public highway, further emphasizing the inherent dangers of a vehicle that drivers of other vehicles cannot see well. Mini bikes are NOT real vehicles. Riding one on the street as if it were is a huge gamble. Be safe.
About the author:
Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him “Trial Lawyer of the Year” (2011). Super Lawyers recently named him among the “Top Ten” lawyers in the Metro Area (out of more than 80,000 attorneys). He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a “Big Gun” and among the “top 100” lawyers in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as “one of Washington’s best–most honest and effective lawyers” who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners. His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA. Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of “The Best Lawyers in America” by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a “Super Lawyer” by Super Lawyer magazine (2014) — national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.