December 12, 2018
By Mickey Smith, Esq.
Scooters are an increasingly popular mode of transportation. Although scooters can be both fun and economical, in Florida, scooters cannot be used on a so-called “limited access facility.” In lay terms, what does this mean? A recent case is instructive.
On November 30, 2018, the Fifth District Court of Appeal reversed a $6 million damage verdict in a case arising out of a scooter being driven on the Pineda Causeway, in Brevard County. The evidence at trial established that the Pineda Causeway is a limited access roadway, with a posted speed limit of 55 miles per hour. The Florida Highway Patrol stated that the normal flow of traffic is 55 to 65 miles per hour. The scooter at issue was equipped with a 1.8 horsepower motor and had a top speed of 31.7 miles per hour. The evidence at trial established that the scooter was traveling at 28.7 miles per hour when the collision occurred.
The defense requested the following jury instruction, based on Chapter 316, Florida Statutes – – the State Uniform Traffic Control Statutes:
Members of the jury you are instructed that no person shall operate upon a limited access facility any bicycle, motor-driven cycle, animal-drawn vehicle, or any other vehicle which by its design or condition is incompatible with the safe and expedient movement of traffic.
You are also instructed that a limited access facility is defined as a street or highway especially designed for through traffic and over, from, or to which owners or occupants of abutting land or other persons have no right of easement, or only a limited right of easement.
The Fifth District Court of Appeal concluded that the requested instruction was a correct statement of the law and was supported by the evidence. Failure to give it resulted in reversal of the jury’s $6 million damage verdict.
When properly used, scooters can be a fun, practical form of transportation. They have no business, though, on limited access roadways – such as Interstates, Florida’s Turnpike, and any other roadway where on/off access is limited to certain defined points. Use on such roadways can be hazardous to not only the operator of the scooter, but also to other traffic that may be ensnared in a collision caused by the scooter.
If you have been involved in an accident involving a scooter, feel free to contact the attorneys at Lesser, Lesser, Landy & Smith, PLLC. We have decades of experience handling all types of vehicular accidents.