The Italian Almanac
Italian News - September 19
The government is to soften a new law under which hundreds of scooters have been confiscated in the wake of protests from consumer associations and even traffic police. Under strict rules which came into effect last month, moped and vespa riders are liable to lose their vehicle for good if they are caught wearing an unbuckled helmet, not sitting on the saddle properly or doing 'wheelies'.
Other offences punishable with confiscation include taking one or more passengers on a 50cc moped, taking a dog or other pet as a passenger, talking on a mobile phone while riding and carrying bulky shopping. All of these things are common in Italy, whose city dwellers frequently prefer scooters as a means of transport because of their ability to nip in and out of traffic.
Since rules came into effect on August 23, over a thousand two-wheelers have been seized in cities up and down the peninsula. Naples leads the table with over 700. The rules were introduced as a means of improving road safety and there are many local administrators, especially in Naples, who still believe they are useful.
Consumer groups argue that it is excessive for a doctor to lose his moped if he forgets to fasten his helmet buckle. The galling thing for many is that the scooters are not returned after a time, but sold off at auction. Traffic police have also complained that the rules are "too harsh", adding that officers are vulnerable to abuse and even physical assault from offenders who learn with shock that they will never see their vehicle again.