When Guillermo Moratorio's black and silver motor scooter collided with a black Saab earlier this semester, he was flung headfirst toward it in a front-flip that landed him sideways on the pavement. The UF senior was traveling at the 35-mile-per-hour speed limit on Southwest Second Avenue when the woman driving the car pulled out past the stop sign. Moratorio, who was not wearing a helmet, could not swerve to avoid the car and collided with the rear of the vehicle.
Moratorio's accident left him with both his ankles fractured and a destroyed scooter.
"It was pretty intense," said Moratorio, who has been on crutches since the accident. "My scooter was completely obliterated."
Reported motorcycle and scooter accidents have increased from five to 18 incidents between 2005 and 2006, said University Police Department Lt. Robert Wagner.
Most reported incidents involved scooters, Wagner said. This year, the trend shows no sign of stopping. Eleven accidents have been reported so far, a number that already exceeds the total count for 2005, Wagner said.
"There may be more crashes due to there being more scooters," he said.
Students had purchased 1,265 scooter and motorcycle decals as of Aug. 1. Faculty and staff have purchased 441 scooter and motorcycle decals since April.
Ron Fuller of UF Transportation and Parking Services notes that the number of scooter and motorcycle decals purchased is increasing.
"Each year we have more and more scooters, so we have to find ways to accommodate them," he said.
In past years, when student and staff motorcycle and scooter decals were recorded together, there were consistent increases in the number purchased. Decal purchases rose by about 24 percent between the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years.
However, Fuller is not convinced that more scooters on the road lead to more accidents. He said it is based on the rider.
Collin Austin, the owner of New Scooters 4 Less, says riders can stay safe by wearing helmets, riding a bright-colored scooter or putting both feet down to stay stable when stopped.
"Motor scooters are starting to become as much of a necessity as a student's textbooks," he said. "You're definitely the smallest thing on the road. You want to make sure you're the most visible."
Wearing helmets is crucial, Wagner said.
"I don't think people realize that 20 miles per hour is enough to kill," he said