Moped insurance bill advances

Posted June 17, 2014

— House lawmakers are weighing a proposal to require moped operators to have license plates and insurance. 

The measure, House Bill 1145, won its first vote Tuesday in the House Transportation Committee, but some lawmakers assailed the measure as unfairly targeting people who have no other option.

Mopeds, which include motor scooters and electric bicycles, are two- or three-wheeled vehicles that cannot exceed 30 mph. They are not currently subject to any of the testing, licensing, registration, inspection or insurance requirements that apply to other vehicles. They're often used by people who cannot afford a car or who have lost their driver's licenses, sometimes due to driving while impaired convictions.

Sponsor Rep. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow, said he's received many complaints from people who get into accidents with moped drivers and find their own insurance must cover the cost of damages because the moped isn't required to have coverage.

The bill would require moped owners carry bodily injury, property damage and liability insurance, which Shepard said he was told would probably cost about $65 a year.  

To register the moped, the owner would have to provide a manufacturer's certificate of origin, which is like a title for a car. If the owner doesn't have one, he or she would have to go through a Division of Motor Vehicles inspection to obtain a registration and plates. The cost would be $18. 

Co-sponsor Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson,  said the state saw a 290 percent increase in motor scooter crashes between 2003 and 2012 as use of the small vehicles became more common. Almost 850 crashes, she said, involved a moped and a motor vehicle. 

"They are running into people. They are doing damage to their personal property. They have no insurance. A lot of the time, we don't even know who these people are," said Brown.

The bill, she stressed, does not require a driver's license for moped drivers.  

"We know that that is the way – if you've had your license taken away for a DWI, that's really the only way many folks can get to work," she said. "We don't want to take away their ability to make a new start and to contribute to this state."

The requirements would take effect July 1, 2015. 

Critics of the bill argued at length that it penalizes people who are already struggling. 

"Nobody wants to be on a moped. They're trying to get to work," said Rep Michael Stone, R-Lee, who has sold mopeds in the past. "Everybody that drives a moped is not a drunk. There's a lot of hardworking people just trying to get by."

Stone pointed out that golf carts are involved in accidents, too, but rules for those are left up to each community.

"You know why that is? Because rich people drive golf carts," he said.

Rep. Edgar Starnes, R-Caldwell, asked whether a moped driver with a previous DWI conviction might have to pay more than the $65 estimate for insurance. 

Tim Lucas with the state Department of Insurance explained that, in cases where a driver owns another vehicle, the driver's points and resulting higher rates would affect the insurance cost for the other vehicle first.  

However, Lucas later explained to WRAL News, if the moped is the driver's only vehicle, then the DWI record would very likely increase the cost of insurance for the moped.

Rep. George Cleveland, R-Onslow, said bicycles are just as dangerous, if not more dangerous, than mopeds.

"I've always been uncomfortable with licensing mopeds," Cleveland said. "We've left the mopeds alone for the simple reason that there are thousands and thousands of North Carolina citizens that use them to support their families. I think, at this point, we should not start down that road."

"We're seeing the consequences of leaving the mopeds alone," Brown replied. "It's a growing problem."

The bill also directs the state to study whether additional changes are needed to ensure that mopeds are being operated safely. 

Fred Baggett with the state Police Chiefs Association said his group has supported registration of mopeds for a long time. He said they're increasingly being used in the commission of crimes.

"If there's a license plate, it can be traced to a registrant," Baggett told the committee.

John Hill, a moped dealer speaking for the Motorcycle Vehicle and Electric Vehicle Association, said his group is in favor of registration but opposed to requiring insurance. He said Virginia is requiring all mopeds to have license plates as of July 1, but neither Virginia nor South Carolina requires insurance or a driver's license. 

The measure passed the committee 17-13 and goes next to the House Finance Committee.


This blog post is closed for comments.

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  • afn24471 Jun 18, 2014

    1. Scooter-car incidents are just as likely (maybe more) to be the car driver's fault, although they are less vulnerable and also less likely to be punished.
    2. Lack of insurance does not prevent recovery of damages through the civil courts.
    3. For those who claim that scooters and bikes don't follow the traffic rules, you need to start counting the times cars run through lights and stops. Actually, start counting the times you don't obey. Bonuses for counting LEOs who don't follow laws.

  • findoutthefacts Jun 18, 2014

    Those of you complaining that the GOP are forcing more government intrusion on our lives....think of it like this.

    All they are trying to do is give equality to everyone on the road. Isn't that what you libs scream and cry about...equality? Everyone using the roads should have equality in being registered and paying insurance.


  • notexactly Jun 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    First off your taxes going up was cause of your all mighty Obama there bud. and second this law should have been passed long ago. So you are ok if I have a moped and run into the side of your 40k new ride and your insurance has to pay for your damage. If you say you are fine with that, you are most likely not being honest. And for all of you complaining about the law, have you ever been hit by one and had to fix your car out of your pocket? You good with that? If they are on the road, they need to have liability ins. So what if a moped hits a pedestrian and seriously hurts them. You guys ok with that? What if it is your child and causes permanent damage and you have to flip the bill for that? You guys really need to stop the dem complaining and look at the whole picture. They need to have insurance. Period

  • notexactly Jun 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    To bad !!! They put themselves in that position. If they hit your car and you have to pay, that is wrong. This is another example of the responsible keeping up the irresponsible. If they are on the road, they should have to have liability insurance. I doubt if you would feel the same way if one hit you in the side of your vehicle and did about 3k in damage, only to find out your insurance would have to pay for your damage and oh of course raise your rates. Hey what if you only had liability???? Then guess what you are stuck paying for their mistake out of your pocket. Still ok with that?

  • 42_wral_mods_suck_i'm_gone Jun 18, 2014

    Another fee/tax brought to you by the GOP. If you made less than 100K, your taxes went up.

  • Rebelyell55 Jun 18, 2014

    register and tags for bikecycles also. But no insurance. Many driving moped don't have license and as someone stated below, how are they going to get insurance without license?

  • Barbara Sossomon Jun 18, 2014
    user avatar

    So, it is not OK to make them have insurance, so that if they cause damage to my vehicle, or myself that my insurance does not go up? That makes NO SENSE!

  • Lightfoot3 Jun 18, 2014

    "If they exceed 30 MPH, they are classified as motorcycles. " - rescuefan

    While that may be technically true, all of the ones I see are the common mopeds you see, without tags, etc. And they go faster than 30mph. My dad's old moped, from the 1970s, topped out at about 30mph.

    "I've personally never seen a moped on the highway." - rescuefan

    I see them all the time on the highway (like hwy 401, hwy 55), were the posted speed is 55mph. They're usually doing 40mph to 45mph. I rarely see one going below 35mph, unless it's in town.

  • archmaker Jun 18, 2014

    first they came for your mopeds.
    next they will come for your riding lawn mower.
    nice debate between the less government gop and the big insurance company gop. bet it keeps them up at night.

  • 68_dodge_polara Jun 18, 2014

    View quoted thread

    It's not uncommon to take a scooter of up to say 150cc and put a 50cc sticker over the top of the original one sticker or say for a 150 cut off or remove the one. Who's really going to check?