Fatal crash has MSU students talking about moped safety

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College student on white moped.

Taylor Gattoni

Cat Armstrong, a Michigan State swimmer, saw a 21-year-old student on a moped get into an accident with a salt truck Jan. 15 and rushed to perform CPR. She couldn’t save the student. Now, she has a message for others.

Armstrong said she would like to see rules enforced to make moped riders wear helmets, more lighting on streets, and enforcing existing rules of being aware on the road.

Armstrong said she would like to see enforcement of rules to make moped riders wear helmets, more street lighting and, brighter reflectors on mopeds.

There is no question more students are driving mopeds.  

In the spring of 2018, Michigan State designated parking spots for mopeds. “Buses are too full and I’ve had trouble getting on them because of how many students there are, I don’t have a car, and it would take me 40 minutes to walk to my classes,” said Kate Irwin, a sophomore. There are 2,179 mopeds registered on Michigan State’s campus.

Monette said there have been  16 moped accidents since the beginning of the 2018-2019 school year. Another swim team member and witness of the accident, Courtney Aycock, had a  moped accident at the beginning of the semester. “I was heading straight through a light. My light was green and a car turned left in front of me, so I collided with the car.” Although there were no serious injuries, Aycock has been weary riding her moped since.

After hearing about January’s accident and weather creating more dangerous road conditions, some students said they feel unsafe riding their mopeds.

Marching band member Zachary Jennings said,  “I personally chose to not ride it this semester and put it away because I was nervous about something happening.”

“I haven’t rode mine since,” Marissa Kolp, a kinesiology major said. “I’m going to wait until the weather has cleared up. I also purchased a helmet because I wasn’t wearing one prior to the accident.”

Political science and pre-law major Jackelyn Wilhelm said, “I think it just made me want to be more consistent on wearing my helmet while riding my moped.”

Armstrong said,  “I never wore a helmet or anything. I wish it didn’t take this experience for me to realize how dangerous mopeds can be.”

The State of Michigan and Michigan State have requirements for keeping moped users safe on the road. These requirements deal with registration, safety checks, riding techniques and defense, keeping your distance, dealing with injuries and emergencies.

“In Michigan, a moped operator under the age of 19 must wear a state-approved helmet on their head when operating a moped on a thoroughfare. However, the use of a helmet by any moped operator is recommended for safety,” Monette said.

Wilhelm said, “I think if you want to drive on campus you should have to complete a moped safety driving course, and there should be some type of ordinance that while on campus you must wear a helmet.”

Aycock said, “Everyone should wear helmets because you never know what is going to happen. You always need to be aware when riding a moped because you may be doing everything correctly, but you never know what other drivers are going to do.” Incidents like the salt truck turning left in front of the student who had the right away can still happen without your own control.

In recognition of some steps taken at Michigan State, Kolp said, “Now I feel like they should focus more on making other drivers aware of moped drivers. Possibly signs that warn ‘look twice, save a life.’”