A petition drive scheduled to start Tuesday (August 6) will be the opening salvo in a renewed push by area legislators and other Evansville and Vanderburgh County officials to enact new state laws regulating the use of motorized scooters across Indiana.

Leading the drive are State Reps. Gail Riecken (D-Evansville) and Ron Bacon (R-Chandler) and State Sen. Vaneta Becker (R-Evansville). They are being joined by Evansville Mayor Lloyd Winnecke, Vanderburgh County Prosecutor Nick Hermann, Evansville City Councilwoman Missy Mosby, Eastview Neighborhood Association President Chris Cooke, Oak Hill Neighborhood Association President Susan Harp, and Karin Montgomery with the Auto Theft Division of the Evansville Police Department.

“With the recent news of yet another person being seriously injured in an accident involving a motor scooter, we are again faced with the glaring lack of laws covering these vehicles, which continue to become more and more prevalent on roadways across this state,” the state lawmakers said in a joint statement.

“More needs to be done, and there are enough people concerned that something should be done that we feel the time is now to start building a consensus for legislation that covers registration, licensing, safety training, and insurance for motorized scooters,” they continued.

The first attempt at gauging public support will come with a petition asking state and local officials to update local and state laws regarding scooters and mopeds. The petition makes a simple statement:

            I think the state and local laws regarding scooters should be updated for the safety of those who use our roadways.

People will have the chance to sign this petition starting next Tuesday, when it will available at a booth during the National Night Out, which begins locally at 6 p.m. in Wesselman Park. Rep. Riecken, Councilwoman Mosby and members of the Evansville Police Department and the United Neighborhood Association will be at the booth to collect signatures.

There also will be an on-line version of the petition available for people across the state to sign. That petition can be accessed at:

“While we know that this is an issue affecting the lives and property of people in our area, we also believe it is a problem in many other communities across Indiana,” the lawmakers said in their statement. “We want to give everyone a chance to make their voices heard.”

Montgomery noted, “Current state laws covering motorized bicycles — or scooters, as the retailers call them — are outdated and compromise the safety of the riders and other users of our public roadways. We need to have changes in our laws, and my hope is that this petition drive will help show lawmakers that something must be done.”

Statewide statistics show an alarming increase in the numbers of people killed and injured in accidents involving scooters and mopeds over the past decade. From 2004 to 2012, the numbers of accidents across the state involving the vehicles rose from 310 to 1,177, according to the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute.

The increase was even more noticeable in Evansville, rising from nine accidents in 2008 to 246 in 2012. The numbers do not include single moped/scooter fall-over accidents.

“There are laws on the books in the city of Evansville covering the use of mini-bikes, but I also know that there is confusion here because no one is too sure exactly what types of cycles are covered under the definitions,” Mosby said.

Efforts to regulate scooters at the state level were made in both the 2012 and 2013 sessions of the Indiana General Assembly, but both failed.

“There are laws on the books covering mopeds, but we need to update those laws to include better definitions of what scooters are, and we believe we need to make it clear that scooters must be registered and their owners must be licensed, take safety classes, and have some proof of insurance,” the lawmakers said in their statement.

“We cannot afford to see more people driving scooters who are being hurt and killed on our roads,” they added. “We believe people across this state want these changes in place, and now is the time to start moving toward laws that will help keep us safe.”