A popular moped bill that passed both the South Carolina State House and Senate chambers died on Governor Nikki Haley’s desk earlier this month. If passed into law, the bill would have levied new regulations against moped drivers.
Under current South Carolina code, traffic laws applying to motor vehicles do not apply to mopeds. That loophole means that a person “can be stinking drunk on a moped and can’t be arrested,” in the words of State Sen. Greg Hembree. Someone can also operate a moped on a highway even though the maximum legal speed of such a vehicle is only 30 mph.
Fifty people died in 2015 from moped accidents in South Carolina, and 16 more have died so far in 2016. Legislators will need to push for more concrete definitions and a bare minimum of control over moped operation if they hope to reduce these fatalities in the future.
New Moped Laws in South Carolina Slip Through the Cracks
The proposed law would have critically set a standard definition for mopeds under South Carolina law. Currently, three conflicting legal definitions put mopeds essentially in a gray area, where few traffic laws and regulations can touch them.
According to South Carolina Code of Laws, Section 56-1-1710:
“‘Moped’ means a cycle with pedals to permit propulsion by human power or without pedals and with a motor of not more than fifty cubic centimeters which produces not to exceed two brake horsepower and which is not capable of propelling the vehicle at a speed in excess of thirty miles an hour on level ground.”
New laws would apply a similar definition across the board and enact a series of registration requirements for owners. They would have to obtain a separate moped operator license — which is not required under current laws. The minimum legal age to operate a moped would increase from 14 to 15. Drivers and passengers under 21 would be required to wear a helmet.
Finally, the bill would have required moped operators to wear reflective vests at night. That last stipulation became a point of contention for Gov. Hayley, who deemed the requirement too restrictive. When the chance came to override the veto in the State Senate, State Sen. Gerald Malloy blocked the bill, agreeing that the vests would be “cumbersome” for riders to wear.
Reacting to Malloy’s assertion, Sen. Hembree remarked: “We’ve been working on this [bill] for four years. All of a sudden, he found a problem with reflective vests that cost $4.50.”
Staying Safe on Mopeds
Even though doing so is currently legal, South Carolina residents can reduce their risk of accidents if they avoid operating a moped on highways with posted speed limits in excess of 55 mph. They should also avoid operating a moped while impaired.
If you have been injured while operating a moped — even contrary to the above suggestions — you should fight for your legal right to compensation with South Carolina motorcycle accident attorney. Call (704) 307-4350 for a free case evaluation today.