Getting Your First Moped: Four Tips for Being Safe on the Road

Riding a moped can be a lot of fun and it can also be a great way to save on gas if you live in a small town. My father bought me my first moped when I was 14 years old as a way to help me gain experience on the road, get to school and back without riding the bus and also just to ride around town. There are a lot of things you will need to know about a moped in order to stay safe while on the road because it can be dangerous just like an automobile. Here are four tips that will help keep you safe so you can enjoy the freedom it provides based on my own personal experiences.

1. If you recently purchased a moped the first thing you want to do is make sure you are familiar with the moped before you even decide to ride it around your town. When my father bought me my moped at 14, the first thing he made me do was sit down with the guide and look at all the different parts of the moped including the brake, gear shifter, turn signals and horn. Before you put yourself out on the road and in possible dangerous situations, you need to know where all the components are on the moped. This includes knowing where the gas tank is, knowing how much gas to oil is needed each time you fill up the tank, where the muffler is and how to start it. My moped required you to stand on the pedal and push down with your foot while turning the key in the ignition to start it. You need to read the booklet about the parts and locations of the parts on the moped and then take that information and use it. You should look at the moped and then compare where the parts are located from the booklet and familiarize yourself with what everything does and how it works. If you are unsure about any of the mechanical aspects of your moped you need to either ask a family member or friend for help or take it to a dealership and have them explain everything to you so you know the basic principles of the mechanics.

2. One important aspect of bike riding of any kind especially a moped is wearing proper safety equipment. This should go without saying but making sure you have a durable and reliable helmet will really go a long way in keeping you safe on your moped, especially if you plan on traveling heavily congested roadways. My father made me go and pick out a helmet before he would even let me just sit on it in the driveway and made me learn how to properly fasten it and adjust it as needed. In Ohio, helmets are required for a moped just like it is if you are under 18 and riding a motorcycle, so this was something I could not get around. Even if you are over 18 or helmets are not required, it is a basic safety step that can save your life if you crash or someone hits you while you are on the road. I can think of about three times that I went off of the road because I was not paying attention, and even though the moped would only go to 50 miles per hour, I was lucky to be wearing a helmet to prevent head injuries when I went off the road. You do not need to wear pants or a long shirt while on your moped but this is also a good safety tip because if you wreck, you could get burned by the muffler if you are wearing shorts. I always wore shorts and a short-sleeved shirt but knew if I crashed that I would probably get road rash, burns and cuts so that was probably not the best decision.

3. You should also test your moped to make sure that everything works on it mechanically like it is supposed to. The test should include checking the brakes, making sure the tires are properly inflated, checking the chains for broken links, filling up the gas tank if needed and checking your horn. You do not want to get out on the roadway and find that your brakes are not working properly and then you have an accident because you cannot stop, this is just standard motor vehicle maintenance. You need to ensure also that your headlights and taillight works because even in the daylight you should turn your headlights on so that other people are aware you are around, and in some states it is required to have them on during the day. There were a few times where I forgot to check the gas in the tank and I would run out a few miles down the road then I had to call my father to come down with the gas can for me. You want to just make sure that everything is working properly because even something small like a kink in the chain can cause an accident and leave you seriously hurt if not dead. Not to mention that general upkeep and maintenance of your moped is just the responsible thing to do because you are putting not only yourself at risk but everyone else on the road as well if something goes wrong.

4. Most importantly, if you are out on your moped you always need to be aware of what is going on around you so that you can stay safe and enjoy the experience. This includes turning off your cell phone so you are not distracted by it ringing and so you do not get the urge to make a call. You also should not be texting or partaking in any other activities with your mobile phone while on your moped, which seems like common sense but a lot of people text and drive which is dangerous. You need to be aware of cars behind you and in front of you because you will be going a lot slower than they are, and some people get irritated by this. If you see a car behind you then get over as far to the right as possible so that they can pass you if they choose, do not try to hog the middle of the road because that is illegal. You are supposed to stay within four feet of the white line in the first place so make sure you are at all times because it is for your own safety and the safety of cars on the road. I learned quickly to always keep an eye on the mirrors because they will let you see what is coming up behind you and you can adjust your speed or distance from the edge of the road accordingly. You also want to make sure that you follow the rules of the intersections, stop signs and traffic signals because you are no better than anyone else on the road and it is a major safety concern. If you plan on turning right and you see a car coming then you should wait until the car passes you before you pull out, just as a precaution since you are on a moped and they might not see you. Be aware of the regulations and laws in your state pertaining to intersections and three-way stops so that you do not get yourself in an accident.

If you follow these four tips then you will have a fun and safe time out on your new moped and you will enjoy the freedom it can bring you. When I was 14 I did not realize the amount of responsibility you have to yourself and to everyone else on the road while you are riding your moped, and crashed a few times because of it.

Myself, Personal Experience

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