Raleigh, N.C. — House lawmakers are considering a bill that would require mo-ped and scooter drivers to have licenses.
In North Carolina, those operators need not have a driver's license, registration or insurance.
“None of these people have financial responsibility. If they cause an accident, they’re absolved,” said Rep. Nelson Cole, D-Rockingham County.
Cole is in the process of introducing a separate bill requiring mo-peds and scooters to be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles and be covered by insurance.
“It’s definitely going to impact our scooter sales because the reason that people buy these is they don’t have a driver’s license,” Matison Motorsports manager Ryan Huffman.
Huffman said some customers do have licenses, but buy scooters and mo-peds to avoid paying insurance. Others use the vehicles to save on gas.
Huffman said the majority of his scooter customers don't have licenses, however.
Many drivers, like Stephen Kennel, have lost their licenses.
Kennel said his driver’s license was revoked and the only vehicle he is allowed to drive is a scooter.
“When you get to that point, you have no other choice. … You have to get around somehow,” Kennel said.
“Their problem is not my problem. Their problem is they violated the law. We can’t afford to have those people on the road,” Cole said.
Statewide, the number of mo-peds and mo-ped-related crashes are rising. Last year there were 492 wrecks involving mo-peds – 100 more than the previous year. In 2006 there were 326 wrecks involving the vehicles.
“We need to do something to regulate this,” Cole said.
If the legislation is passed, Kennel said it would change the way he gets around.
“I’m going to be walking a lot more,” Kennel said.
State law defines a mo-ped as "a vehicle that has two or three wheels, no external shifting device, and a motor that does not exceed 50 cubic centimeters piston displacement and cannot propel the vehicle at a speed greater than 30 miles per hour on a level surface."
The terms mo-ped and scooter are often interchanged.