Lawmakers ready for another look at moped insurance rules

Posted January 26, 2015

— Moped riders would be required to carry insurance and face other restrictions if the General Assembly follows through on recommendations the state Division of Motor Vehicles will make to a legislative oversight committee Tuesday. 

"We would like to see insurance on them," Rep. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow, said Monday, adding that he and Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson, had been studying the issue since last summer. "We feel like we've got some very good information from hospitals that would say we need insurance on them (mopeds)."

Shepard said that drivers should be covered in case they injure themselves in an accident. As well, he said, requiring moped riders to carry insurance would protect other drivers who might be involved in an accident with mopeds. 

Lawmakers required moped owners to register their bikes with the state as part of a bill that passed the General Assembly in 2014. That registration requirement was aimed at making moped accidents easier to track and cutting down on theft and other criminal activity. Lawmakers contemplated making an insurance requirement as part of that same bill but dropped it after much debate.

However, Shepard, who was a lead sponsor of last year's measure, says he will push again for an insurance requirement, an idea that apparently has the backing of the DMV, which is poised to make a number of moped-related recommendations to lawmakers on Tuesday, most of which would tighten requirements for riders. 

The main difference between mopeds, which must be tagged but do not require a license to drive, and motorcycles, for which drivers must have a license and insurance as well as plates, has to do with size and engine speed. By law, mopeds are not supposed to go faster than than 30 mph.   

The DMV estimates some 8,000 mopeds are sold in North Carolina annually, according to a legislative analysis published in 2014. Dealers say many of those are sold to people who lost their license due to drunken driving charges – and the DMV is suggesting some of those riders come off the road. 

Prohibiting some moped riders

DMV Commissioner Kelly Thomas is scheduled to address the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Transportation on Tuesday. Figures contained in Thomas' presentation show that Wake and Durham counties are two of the top 10 counties for moped crashes in the state, with nine people killed and 323 more injured during moped accidents in Wake County alone between Jan. 1, 2009, and Dec. 13, 2013. 

Of the 105 fatal crashes reported statewide during that same period, alcohol was suspect in 32. That may be why the DMV is recommending that, if a driver has lost his or her license due to an alcohol-related charge, they be prohibited from driving a moped on state roads, just as they would be prohibited from driving a car. 

Another slide from the DMV shows that, of 833 moped drivers involved in reported crashes in 2013, 374 had seen their licenses to drive a car suspended or revoked.

A DMV spokesperson declined to comment on the recommendations before they are presented to the committee. 

Shepard said he had not looked at a restriction for moped drivers who had seen their licenses for other vehicles revoked. However, he said, the restriction might make sense.

"If you're not safe on the highway in an automobile, what makes you safe on a moped?" he said. 

Such a requirement would no doubt be controversial. Chris Brewer, a motorcycle dealer and president of the North Carolina Motorcycle Dealers Association, said that a variety of people, including students and professionals, purchase mopeds for a number of reasons, including saving money on gas and an affordable purchase price. Some people do buy the small bikes as a way to ensure they can get around after going to court for a DWI, he said.

"They lose their license, and they need something for transportation. They just need something to get back and forth to work on," Brewer said.

He had not heard about the DMV proposal on prohibiting people with suspended or revoked licenses from operating mopeds and said it would have an impact both on moped riders and dealers. 

"I just can't believe they would do that," he said. 

Insurance would raise costs

Brewer said that little has changed in the past six months that would make members of his association see an insurance requirement for all moped drivers as necessary. 

According to the North Carolina Rate Bureau, liability insurance premiums for moped riders range from $68 to $450, depending on driving history. 

"The whole idea of a moped was to be affordable," Brewer said, adding that requiring riders to carry insurance could price them out of the market. 

The oversight committee is scheduled to finalize its report and recommendation to the General Assembly on Tuesday. Lawmakers return to session on Wednesday and are expected to be in session at least until July. 


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  • rnitschke66 Jan 28, 2015

    View quoted thread

    Because our General Assembly doesn't know the difference between a moped and a motor scooter doesn't excuse WRAL for confusing the two. Maybe I'm wrong for holding the press to a higher standard of accuracy, but I haven't met many people who can't differentiate between a motorcycle, motor scooter, and a moped.

  • imtiredofit Jan 28, 2015

    I think that any law that is passed for Moped's and their drivers should also apply to bicycle riders as well. Mopeds are slow (restricted to 30mph) and should not be on highways that have speed limits above 45mph and bicycles on these highways are even slower and create the same dangers to the motoring public. Also bicyclists should have the same requirements as to insurance that protects the bicycle rider just like the moped rider would be required to have.

  • Imma Annoid Jan 28, 2015
    user avatar

    They clearly need insuring. They are a motor vehicle traveling on roads with traffic. The 35MPH limit should still be enforced.

  • Rebelyell55 Jan 28, 2015

    Having a driver license is a privilage. Using the road system for walking, biking or scooter/moped riding is currently a right.

  • Shane Taylor Jan 28, 2015
    user avatar

    I love the complainers...and if you say it'll broaden the wealth gap? $450/yr is less than $40/mo...That is cheap. I have a 2014 1300CC cruiser and I pay $31/mo full coverage...I am pretty sure rates for mopeds/scooters would be more like $100/year...

  • Steve Allen Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    View quoted thread

    Iron fist you are so wrong. They are a big pain the scooter riders don't obey the laws they can't keep up with traffic they cut in and out of traffic. Like bikes they don't get out of the way. Give me a break. Save money give me a break. At the least the riders should have insurance.

  • Mike C Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Why is it that the ones doing the most complaining, are the ones that for whatever reason have lost their licenses? I can't even begin to count the number of times I have seen someone on one of those things swerving all over the road creating a hazard. And what is wrong with them having to have insurance? I would like to know that when someone on one of them causes a wreck with a licensed, insured vehicle that it won't come out of the insured drivers pocket.

  • Mike C Jan 27, 2015
    user avatar

    Driving, whether licensed/insured, or not is a privilege NOT a right!

  • DunnNC Jan 27, 2015

    Why would anyone think that a person driving a motorized vehicle / bike / scooter / cycle or whatever should not have to have insurance to cover said vehicle if they are involved in an accident? Why should drivers of these type of motorized vehicles be treated any different than anyone else? If the vehicle is motorized and is on the road with other licensed and tagged vehicles then they should be required to have insurance just like everyone else.

  • miseem Jan 27, 2015

    Why would Obama and his socialist minions want to force a citizen to purchase insuran - oops, wrong article.