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         October 22, 2004

Legislator Gonsalves Files Bill to Protect Children from Motorized Hazards

Nassau County Legislator Norma L. Gonsalves (R-East Meadow) has filed legislation to outlaw the use of motorized scooters on Nassau County property such as streets, sidewalks and parking lots. In addition, vendors who sell these scooters or all terrain vehicles (ATV) must disclose restrictions placed upon their use by this legislation. The need for such legislation has arisen due in part to the increased numbers of motorized scooters on Nassau County roadways and the increased numbers of accidents related to their use. In 2000, the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission reported that there were 4,390 motorized scooter related injuries that required emergency room visits. Nearly 40% of those injured in accidents were under the age of 15. "Young children often think that no harm can come to them while riding these motorized scooters. These scooters can reach speeds in excess of 40 miles per hour. At that speed, any miscalculation or error on the part of the operator can prove to be fatal," said Legislator Gonsalves.

The importance of this legislation, co-sponsored with Legislator John J. Ciotti (R- North Valley Stream), has become abundantly clear ever since a 19-year-old Queens resident was tragically killed while operating a motorized scooter in July of this year. The driver hit a pothole while traveling at an excessive speed and lost control of the scooter. The New York State Vehicle and Traffic Law mandates that registration is required for any vehicle that is operated on public streets. The New York State Department of Motor Vehicles has determined that motorized scooters or "pocket rockets" cannot be registered and therefore should not be allowed on public streets. This legislation will hopefully eliminate the significant safety risks that go along with operating a pocket rocket.

First time violators of this law can be fined up to $250 while repeat offenders may be penalized a maximum of $500. In addition, any motorized scooter being operated by a person under the age of 16 may be subject to immediate seizure by a peace or police officer. Vendors who fail to notify potential buyers of the new regulations placed on motorized scooters and ATVs may be punished by a fine of up to $500 for each offense. This legislation is similar to laws that have been passed in Suffolk County and New York City regarding the use of motorized scooters on public roads.

"These scooters can reach high levels of speed and offer the operator very little in terms of protection. This legislation will restrict the use of these pocket rockets on public roadways. It is my hope that this legislation will avoid further tragedies that are linked to these dangerous machines," added Legislator Gonsalves. The legislation currently is in the office of the Clerk of the Legislature and can only be brought for a vote by the Presiding Officer of the Nassau County Legislature.

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