Do you know someone who rides a moped? Their popularity has exploded among both those who commute in cities and college students because mopeds use little or no gasoline, depending upon the model you ride. They can also be useful for short trips such as running errands. But mopeds, though economical and handy to use, have their dangers. In South Carolina, deaths have been rising sharply among moped drivers. In 2015, moped-related fatalities reached 45, up from 21 deaths five years earlier (2010). The death total for 2016 dropped only slightly, to 41.
The carnage doesn’t stop there: 2015 moped crashes in South Carolina hit a new high at 819; 2016 crashes totaled 785. More than 80 percent of the 2016 collisions caused injuries.
Because of the deadly trend, at the end of 2016 two state legislators revived a previously unpassed moped safety bill. The result was that it passed and was signed into law by Gov. McMaster in 2017. The new law will take effect in November, 2018.
What is a Moped?
A moped is defined as a motorized, lightweight two-wheeled vehicle that carries only one person, with an engine size of 50 cc or smaller. However, some mopeds can carry two persons and have larger engines, enabling them to travel at speeds of 60 to 70 mph. Mopeds are sometimes called scooters or mini-motorcycles. However, they are not true motorcycles; mopeds are often limited to roads with lower speed limits. They are frequently barred from high-speed highway and interstate travel.
The New SC Law
The original bill, revived by state Rep. Bill Crosby, R-Charleston, and state Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, lost a few of its safety rules by the time it passed. Liability insurance and reflective vests at night will not be required under the new law. However, moped owners will be required to register their vehicles and attach a license plate, will need to obtain a moped license, and will have to wear helmets if they are under 21 years of age. License plates will both help reduce moped theft and also identify the vehicle in a crash.
Moped drivers can also be cited for traffic violations for the first time, including driving drunk while on a moped. Previously, you could drive a moped while under the influence and not be penalized for it because of a loophole in state law that defined motor vehicles.
On occasion, persons who have lost their passenger vehicle license will use mopeds to get to work. Those who have lost their car licenses can still obtain a moped license, with the point system starting over at zero. However, if the moped driver is caught driving drunk, they can lose their moped license as well. Sen. Hembree has been quoted as saying, “If you’re driving drunk on a moped, you need to be walking. You’re not getting the message.”
Both Rep. Crosby and Sen. Hembree believe that the new law will help reduce accidents and save lives.
Under the new law, owners of mopeds will not owe any taxes on the vehicles, nor will they be required to carry any type of insurance.
Small Size Can Equal Danger
While some moped drivers may abuse the privilege of riding one, many times those on mopeds get into accidents because of the persons behind the wheel in passenger vehicles. Mopeds are small, sometimes smaller than bicycles, so they can be hard to see. Additionally, mopeds have a shorter stopping distance than other vehicles due to their size and weight, so they are vulnerable to being rear-ended by vehicles that follow too closely. Road debris, potholes, and other road hazards can also cause moped crashes.
If you or a loved one has been injured or killed in a moped collision, and you believe the person driving the moped was not at fault, seeking legal assistance can be a prudent thing to do. Moped crashes are no different than any other motor vehicle collision that involves negligence.
Have you been injured in a crash, and suspect that negligence by the other party is involved? The lawyers at the Louthian Law Firm have represented injured South Carolinians in vehicle accident and personal injury suits since 1959. With our firm on the case, you can rest assured that you’ll get the personalized attention you deserve. South Carolina law entitles you to hold that party legally responsible for your medical expenses as well as any lost wages and other financial losses. You may also seek compensation for pain and suffering or the loss of comfort, care and companionship of a loved one. The deadline for filing a claim is running now, so call the Louthian Law Firm for help today or, if you prefer, fill out our confidential online contact form.