Malcolm Flynn | Apr 20, 2012

New research has shown that in the realm of two-wheeled motorists, moped riders are involved in more accidents, motorcyclists are more than three times as likely to die on the road, and scooter riders are the safest of the three.

The study, by Queensland University of Technology’s Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety (CARRS-Q), claims to be the first to compare the safety levels of mopeds, scooters, and motorcycles.

The study distinguishes mopeds from scooters under Queensland law (also NT, SA, and WA), which permits mopeds (50cc and under, limited to 50km/h) to be ridden with just a car licence. Scooters require a motorcycle licence in all states and territories.

The distinction is significant, considering that between 2001-2009, moped registrations increased 15-fold, compared with motorcycle and scooter registrations, which merely doubled.

Also significant is that “moped crashes appear to occur at a higher rate per registered vehicle and per kilometre travelled than motorcycle crashes," CARRS-Q's Ross Blackman said.

The fact that more moped riders are crashing more often raises some concern for their relative safety, particularly considering that, the study shows, 45 percent of these moped crashes resulted in hospitalisation.

The research suggests that scooters are used for similar purposes to mopeds, but data suggests scooter riders are less likely to be involved in a crash.

Scooter riders “hold a motorcycle licence, and are therefore likely to have undertaken rider training”, Blackman said.

Motorcycles were the most lethal of the three, according to the research, with 3.4 percent of reported crashed resulting in fatality, compared with one percent of reported moped and scooter crashes.

According to the study, the difference in crash severity was related to the circumstances the vehicles were used in.

"Scooter riders also exhibit safer behaviour than motorcycle riders, despite both groups meeting the same licensing requirements. This suggests a difference in attitude which sees motorcycle riders taking more risks on the road."

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