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HI – Latest Moped Death Renews Call for Tougher Regulations

January 26, 2010

HI – Latest Moped Death Renews Call for Tougher Regulations

The death of a 17-year-old moped rider is renewing the call for tougher regulations for mopeds and their operators. Police believe 17-year-old Gerald Baltazar was speeding when he ran a stop sign on his moped and slammed into a car Saturday night in Manoa. Friends say his moped was modified.

“We have kids that are on mopeds that are going just about as fast as a motorcycle, they’re illegally retro-fitted and they’re harming themselves if not fatally definitely being harmed,” said Rep. Corrine Ching.

State law requires mopeds to not exceed 30 miles per hour. According to the Department of Health more than 60 percent of severe head injuries come from moped-related crashes. Moped fatalities have been steady for nearly a decade, many involved retro-fitted mopeds.

“A lot of these younger kids think they’re invincible and that they’re abilities aren’t necessarily matching with the vehicle that they’re driving,” said State Transportation Director Brennon Morioka.

In October 2008, 22-year-old Rendell Okimoto-Allen was killed in Manoa. Investigators say excessive speed may have been a factor. Friends say his moped was modified.

“We introduced a bill last year requiring helmets for those riding mopeds and motorscooters primarily because they’re the most vulnerable,” said Morioka.

But the moped industry has fought against a helmet bill for moped riders. They say a few bad apples are ruining it for the mass.

“They were not driving a basic put put to get around town they were driving supped up vehicles that took head on collisions,” said Jeff Miller of Mopeds Direct.

Lawmakers want to create a moped task force to address the issue.

“We don’t currently have an adequate i.d. situation. Mopeds have the size of a post-it type of license plate,” said Rep. Ching. “It’s time we reclassify them for what they are they are not that significantly from motorcycles in terms of the speed that’s being used on them.”

“Ultimately we’d like to get the same kind of rider education for moped riders and motorscooters riders that we do for motorcyclists and in all I think that’s going to make our roads a lot safer,” added Morioka.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Martin J permalink
    April 23, 2010 1:05 pm

    Having no law on helmets for moped riders is crazy. This article on mentions research that says:

    Wearing a helmet considerably reduces the risk of head injury in a crash. In the early 1980’s researchers Huijbers and Van Kampen estimated the effect of wearing a helmet: the risk of being killed was 40% lower and that of severe injury went down with 30%.

  2. goldiron permalink*
    April 23, 2010 2:08 pm

    I understand your concerns.
    Helmets are not the panacea that you claim. If helmets provide as much protection from head injury as you would like us to believe, you would be adamant about other activities of life that proffer a much greater contribution of head injury. The statistics that you are offering also reference privately owned vehicles that include autos, SUVs, vans, and pick-up trucks. Additionally, you neglected the tub and shower injuries that provide a much greater exposure for insurance companies and the public benefit that you are championing.

    Don’t try to bullshit me or the people that read this.

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