Raleigh, N.C. — Moped operators would have to carry insurance in order to drive on state roads under a bill the Senate gave preliminary approval to on Monday.
The debate over insuring moped riders has raged at the General Assembly for years. Proponents say that, if people are riding on state roads, they should have a way of taking responsibility for accidents in which they are involved. Opponents worry that the measure will drive up the cost of owning a moped and could make it hard for some riders, particularly those who have lost driver's licenses and rely on mopeds, to legally operate the bikes.
Sen. Stan Bingham, R-Davidson, said requiring insurance could be a hardship on employers whose workers can't afford insurance and would have no other way to get to their jobs.
"The men who have mopeds are not very high on the food chain," Bingham said.
Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Henderson, angrily responded that lawmakers have failed to take action for years, and drivers and their insurers continue to have to pick up the tab for accidents in which mopeds are involved.
"They don't need to be on the road, regardless," Apodaca said, noting many moped operators have already been convicted of drunken driving.
Sen. Harry Brown, R-Onslow, who owns a car dealership, noted that a moped crashed into one of his new cars, causing several thousand dollars in damage, which forced him to have to sell it as a used car.
Sen. Floyd McKissick, D-Durham, said there needs to be something in the bill about how much insurance is required, and lawmakers would eventually need to address what kind of training people need before operating a moped.
The bill passed 39-9, and a final vote is expected Tuesday before it heads to the governor.