Thursday, June 2, 2011

Police Chief Chat

This past week, the Rolla Police Department handled 780 calls for service. Of these calls there were: 31 arrests, 8 alarm calls, 18 traffic accidents, 35 traffic complaints, 117 traffic stops, 24 disturbance (including domestics), 22 suspicious nature calls, 21 assists of other agencies, 2 narcotics violations, 4 juvenile complaints, 50 stealing complaints, 8 intoxicated persons, 4 trespassing complaints, 64 animal control calls and 12 escorts. This call total is up 59 calls from last week yielding yet another busy week.

Sadly, on Tuesday of this week the Rolla Police Department was honored to be part of the funeral procession escort for US Army Specialist Bradley Melton who was killed serving his country in Afghanistan. Specialist Melton was returned to his family last Friday and hundreds of supporters lined the route as a show of respect. The same was true on Tuesday as Specialist Melton was escorted to his final resting place. We express our deepest sympathy to his family and are very proud of Specialist Melton, his family and this great community. Please keep all of our men and women who are placed in harm’s way each day, in your prayers.

The return of warmer temperatures combined with the rise in fuel costs equals more motorists turning to less expensive modes of travel to include motorcycles, mopeds and scooters. These vehicles, while definitely more economical to operate compared to full size automobiles and trucks, also provide less protection in an accident or mishap. Motorists who choose to rely on this mode of transportation should be aware that in many situations, smaller motorized vehicles are difficult to see and one unfortunate fact is that a lot of motorists are not looking for them. Over the past 3 years there has been a dramatic increase in the popularity of the small motorized two-wheeled vehicles commonly referred to as scooters or mopeds. The popularity in these vehicles was primarily instigated by the sharp increase in fuel prices over the past several years. In addition bicycling and motorcycling enthusiasm is also on the rise and these vehicles seem to comprise the best of both worlds.

The main difference between scooters and mopeds is that the scooter is styled more like a motorcycle in that it is a two-wheeled motorized vehicle that utilizes composite body parts that include a headlight and taillight and is often equipped with turn signals and rear view mirrors. A moped appears more like a traditional bicycle including spoked wheels, a bare frame and pedal cranks. The only addition is a small 50 cubic centimeter (or less) gasoline engine.

Whether it is a moped or a scooter, with an engine displacement of 50 cc’s or less, the Missouri Department of Revenue classify them as the same vehicle and require the following rules for operation.

  1. The operator must possess a valid driver’s license that not need to include a motorcycle endorsement.
  2. The scooter/moped does not need to be registered through the Department of Revenue.
  3. The operator is not required to maintain liability insurance on the vehicle.
  4. The operator or passenger (if vehicle design includes a passenger seat) is not required to wear a DOT approved helmet.
This is the Missouri Department of Revenue’s definition for a moped/scooter: “any two-wheeled or three - wheeled device having an automatic transmission and a motor with a cylinder capacity of fifty (50) cubic centimeters, which produces less than three (3) gross brake horsepower, and is capable of propelling the device at a maximum speed of not more than thirty (30) miles per hour on level ground.”

Operators of scooter/moped vehicles have the same rights and responsibilities as a motor vehicle operator. Always ride with traffic, never against it. When operating at less than the posted speed limit or traffic flow, ride as near to the ride side of the roadway as possible. Move toward the middle or left of the lane as appropriate when making a left turn, avoiding hazards or when the lane is too narrow to share with another vehicle and when there is a right-turn only lane and you are going straight.

State law does not require you to wear a helmet; however wearing a Dept. of Transportation (DOT) approved helmet can prevent serious injuries and death.
Finally, be sure you have received training and instruction on the operation of your vehicle and take the time to practice operation in a safe environment before heading out on the open road. We would also like to recommend operators of this type of vehicle wear bright colored or reflective clothing for better visibility by other motorists.

In closing, This weekend the Rolla Area Chamber of Commerce and the Route 66 Summerfest Committee will be hosting the annual Rt. 66 Sumerfest event which will include many attractions for the entire family. We encourage all of you to bring your families and take part in the many fun-filled events planned for this year’s summer celebration. There are many activities scheduled Friday evening and Saturday, that are not only enjoyable for the participants, but are also a load of fun for the crowd. The events include sporting events such as bicycle rides and races, vendors and exhibits, Segway rides, military displays, food courts, live music, 2 feature length movies, car and motorcycle shows, cruises and cruise-ins and many other events. Be sure to have a great time and be safe. Kudos to the Summerfest Committee for bringing us this mult-faceted summer celebration each year.

I do have one announcement concerning the annual Fire Truck Pull that is hosted each year by the Rolla Police Department and Rolla Fire and Rescue. Due to our lack of team entries this year, we will have to cancel this year’s event that was scheduled for Saturday afternoon at 5:00 p.m. Each year we hosted the Fire Truck Pull in an effort to raise funds for the Veteran’s Memorial Park, located on Southview Drive. In past years we were able to secure enough teams to hold the event but this year we were not so fortunate. Please look for us again in 2012!

Have a great week!

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