COLUMBIA, S.C. (WSPA) – After years of trying, South Carolina lawmakers passed a bill just before the legislative session ended Thursday to put new rules on moped riders. They would have to register their mopeds, wear reflective vests, and they would have to follow all traffic safety laws, meaning a moped rider could get a DUI, which is not possible under the current law.
Supporters say the goal of the bill is to save lives. Last year, 55 people were killed in moped accidents in South Carolina compared to 35 the year before.
Under the bill, moped riders would have to register with the DMV, get license tags, wear reflective vests, wear a helmet if they’re under 21, and be at least 15 years old. Right now, a 14-year-old can ride a moped. Mopeds would not be allowed on roads with speed limits above 55 mph.
Adrain Brooks, a Hopkins resident who lived in Japan for 7 years and says mopeds were everywhere there, says of the bill, “It’s for everyone’s safety, theirs as well as the other drivers as well as pedestrians. I think it’s an excellent idea.”
If Gov. Nikki Haley signs the bill into law, it would take effect on February 1, 2017.
Moped dealer Justin Clark says, “The safety vests, I don’t know how much that’ll help. We’ll find out, I guess, once we get some more statistics in the future.” The bill also requires mopeds to have their headlights on continuously while running, but Clark says they already do that.
The bill originally required moped riders to have liability insurance. Car drivers have complained that they’ve been hit by mopeds and, since the moped riders didn’t have insurance, the car drivers were stuck with the repair bill. But lawmakers took that part out of the bill, promising to study the issue next year.
Clark says drivers already have uninsured motorist coverage, and requiring moped insurance would be difficult. “I’m not sure about how willing these insurance companies are about insuring an $800 moped, especially when there’s a lot of theft,” he says.
Another complaint about mopeds is that they’re often driven by people who’ve lost their driver’s licenses because of DUIs. This bill would require either a driver’s license or a moped license, but someone who’s lost his driver’s license because of a DUI would still be able to get a moped license. The only way to lose a moped license would be for violations that occurred on a moped.