Raleigh, N.C. — A bill that would require moped owners to have insurance narrowly won approval from the House Transportation Committee on Tuesday.
House Bill 148 would require moped drivers to carry liability insurance as of July 1, 2016.
Bill sponsor Rep. Phil Shepard, R-Onslow, said he's sympathetic to critics who say it will add another burden on moped drivers who are already struggling to get to jobs or to school. But he said the problem of moped-car accidents continues to rise, and car owners are left to pay the bills because the mopeds aren't insured.
"All I’m saying, not everybody that’s driving a moped is out there doing the right things," Shepard said. "I think the least we can do is require them to be responsible."
"We demand that the majority of our citizens in this state be responsible," agreed co-sponsor Rep. Rayne Brown, R-Davidson. "Why are we permitting a subgroup to be irresponsible?"
Sponsors said the price for liability insurance on a moped could cost anywhere from $90 a year as a second vehicle on a policy with a clean driving record to $380 for drivers with no other vehicle and a history of driving while impaired.
"The only people riding these little scooters are people who don’t have insurance," pointed out Rep, Michael Speciale, R-Craven.
"If the risk is too great for an insurance company to take, then it’s too great for us to take," said co-sponosr Rep. Jay Adams, R-Catawba. "The information that I've looked at points to a high level of irresponsibility on the part of these moped riders."
"These under 50cc [mopeds] are used mostly by people who have lost their license, and this is how they get to work," Speciale said. "We’re going to force people onto bicycles, and then we’re going to have bicycles running into cars, and then we’re going say we need to register and insure them."
A second part of the bill that would have required safety inspections was removed by an amendment by Rep. Hugh Blackwell, R-Burke, despite support from the North Carolina Association of Police Chiefs.
"Insurance may be arguably a good thing, but there’s no evidence we’ve been presented – other than maybe anecdotal – that defective mopeds are causing any kind of accidents," Blackwell said. "It’s one more cost on these people we’ve described as being probably in financial straits to begin with."
The bill now moves to the House Insurance Committee.