In a lot of countries some (under powered) scooters do not need a driving license. For India a stranger on the internet claimed that you do not need a driving license for gearless scooters under 50cc or electric scooters with a power rating below 750W. First of all, is this even correct/up to date? And if it is correct, is it reasonable to find such scooters in most cities?

(Context: By the time I will be travelling through India my girlfriend definitely won't have a car driving license and I most likely won't have one, but we would both be completely comfortable on a scooter)

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    My recent trips have only been to big cities. I would not be comfortable on a bike there (big or small, with or without an engine) even though I have a full motorbike licence and lots of Asian driving experience. In smaller towns it may be different but anything I know about them is very out of date. I considered renting an Enfield India on a recent trip but when I saw the roads, I soon changed my mind.
    – badjohn
    Jul 1 '18 at 10:47
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    I have now 24 years experience on a motorcycle wth two accidents: First time the beginner mistake and second time losing balance in a curve on gravel. I strongly recommend not to drive in India on anything with two wheels. There is a native idiom in my language which means They are driving like executioners. and India streets are pure chaos. Jul 1 '18 at 11:26
  • @badjohn A lot of backpacking guides recommend in a couple of areas to rent a scooter/motor to travel on the roads around the city. Though I just realized that what I meant is a moped and not a scooter: vignette.wikia.nocookie.net/uncyclopedia/images/0/0b/… (they are both called scooters in my native tongue) Jul 1 '18 at 11:30
  • @ThorstenS.1) Does this also apply to those types of scooters/mopeds that go as fast as a bicycle? I mean, at the speed motorcycles go I would be a whole lot more worried about bad roads. My goal is more to just explore the area around a couple of smaller cities. 2) How come so many backpacking travel guides recommend them in that case (not as a main means of travel, but as an 'exploration' device? Jul 1 '18 at 11:31
  • @user2908232 It is your decision of course but, as I said, despite a lot of experience driving 2 and 4 wheels in Asia (Thailand, Philippines, Sri Lanka), I would like not like to drive in an India city. If I get to a smaller place which does not look so scary then I might rent an Enfield India. Another country where I have declined driving is Vietnam. Well, not quite, I was lent a lovely old Vespa which I could not resist but I only drove it in a quiet area. Another point to remember is that dealing with the police can be tricky if you are in an incident.
    – badjohn
    Jul 1 '18 at 11:42

No, you cannot drive electric scooters without license legally. Before 2016 it was allowed to use electric(!) scooters with less than 250W power and 25km/h top speed, but those days are over.

The idea that scooters are exempt is quite understandable because it really seems easy to lend scooters even without license or helmet and because traffic laws in India are seemingly ignored by the majority of the population.

As already said in the comments, I absolutely advise against driving any vehicle (scooter, motorcycle, car) in India in the urban cities and the main roads. I searched the stats for deadly vehicle accidents: In 2013 Germany had 52 million vehicles and 3 540 deaths caused by vehicle accidents. Also at 2013 India had 183 million vehicles (Factor 3.5 more than Germany), but 238 000 deaths! (Factor 67 more than Germany), making India approximately 20 times more dangerous than Germany to drive. I admit I simply don't understand the mindset of people who think they could drive the most dangerous parts of the world without any experience at all. It is like a person who barely can stand on skiers who tries to make ski jumps.

Given that, if you are in remote areas, far away from the main roads, I think it is tolerable to discover India with a scooter/motorcycle/car and a valid driving license. Still the roads must be driven carefully (many potholes, cows, chicken and slippery dung on the road), the weather (monsoon!) can be quite impressive or even dangerous and the people seem to be completely oblivious to vehicles, walking or crossing the road like they want.

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