A pocket bike, which may also be referred to as a mini-motorcycle or pocket rocket, is a small gas-powered bikes that look like miniature replicas of full-size motorcycles. Even though they are small, they come equipped with a 40cc engine and can even reach speeds of 40 to 50 miles per hour. The pocket bikes range in price from $185 to $600. They are sold in auto part stores, discount stores and over the Internet. They almost never come with helmets or any other safety equipment.
Although one would not think so by looking at them, pocket bikes present many of the same hazards as full-size motorcycles. While pocket bikes look fun and small enough for children, they are deceptively fast and dangerous. Even though the bikes are low to the ground, when an accident occurs at 40 to 50 miles per hour, the rider is very likely going to experience significant injuries. The speeds of pocket bikes only add to the amount and severity of injuries, including higher chances of spinal cord injuries and head injuries.
The operation of pocket bikes is illegal in most cities and states for use on public roadways. Importantly, the pocket bikes lack many essential safety features like horns, visibility reflectors, break stop lights, brakes on both wheels, turn signal lights, rear view mirrors or vehicle identification numbers. Unfortunately, the reality is that some people will still choose to ride pocket bikes on public streets no matter what the law says. The low profile of pocket bikes makes them easy to miss or see to a car, or especially a large sport utility vehicle or truck, backing out of one’s driveway or coming around a blind corner. In addition, the height of the pocket bikes puts the rider’s forehead at the same height as most car bumpers.
While less common, hearing loss can also result from using pocket bikes. Though the engines in pocket bikes are not large, they can still produce sufficient sound to cause hearing damage, especially with children. Plus the high noise level may prevent the rider from hearing the sound from an oncoming car or warning horn.
A number of serious injuries and death have occurred on pocket bikes. One Kansas rider died after he was hit when a car ran a stop sign. A Missouri rider died when a car in a parking lot struck him. Finally, in New York a rider hit a pothole and sustained fatal injuries as a result. However, the number of serious injuries and deaths is difficult to ascertain because they are not reported.
The written warnings of pocket bikes are often inadequate to convey the seriousness of the potential dangers. The warnings are especially inadequate to young riders, because they do not come accompanied with any type of video or graphic pictures to help explain the dangers to the riders or their parents.
Like any product, the manufacturers and distributors of pocket bikes are required to properly warn their intended users of the dangers inherent in using the bikes. If you or a loved one is injured while operating a pocket bike, it is important to seek legal counsel to explore your rights.