MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WMBF) - Mopeds aren’t hard to find in South Carolina. But on Monday, the convenient and often cheaper method to get around is now under stricter safety and registration laws. This new law classifies mopeds as motor vehicles, so that means all mopeds are required to be registered with the state Department of Motor Vehicles. In addition, you must have a valid moped or driver’s license to drive one, which will cost $10 every two years.
Moped drivers now face all laws of the road. For the first time, drivers can be cited for traffic violations like driving under the influence. Riders younger than 21 must wear a helmet and moped drivers must drive in the far-right lane, unless you're making a left turn.
The Myrtle Beach Police Department says this new law will help not only keep moped drivers safe, but if a moped is involved in a crime or accident, law enforcement can identify the owner.
“The mopeds will be easier, better tracked as far as stolen. Also if there is an accident, we’ll be able to identify the owner of the moped a lot easier, when in the past, anybody could go buy a moped, and they didn’t have to register it. They’re more accountable for their actions,” said Cpl. Tremayne Spivey with Myrtle Beach police.
Lawmakers have been working on these stricter moped laws for a few years. South Carolina District 28 Senator Greg Hembree said this new law is all about safety, mostly for moped drivers.
“Well we’ve had in Horry County - but really all over the state - but particularly in Horry County, we’ve had a high number of fatalities over the years by moped operators. So obviously they are the most dangerous vehicle on the roads because of their speed, and if you get hit on a moped, you got no protection at all. That’s why there’s such a high fatality rate. And there’s a very, very high even if you’re not killed, frequently you have to be put in intensive care and there’s a very long-term lengthy recovery. So at its core the idea is to make it safer for the moped operator and make it safer for the traveling public - for everybody,” said Hembree.
He said an issue he hopes to re-visit in the future is requiring mandatory liability insurance on all mopeds, like cars, motorcycles and golf carts are required to have now. He also hopes to look into allowing local governments to restrict the speed limit in certain areas for mopeds.
“Even though we restricted mopeds to roads that are 55 miles-per-hour and less, I think we should give local governments the authority to restrict them even further. In other words, there are roads in Horry County that 55 miles-per-hour and less are fine for mopeds. There are other roads in Horry County that it’s extremely dangerous for it to be traveling on that road. So local governments are in a better position to make that decision than Columbia is, and I think we need to give some local control to that question,” said Hembree.
Hembree said although wearing a reflective vest is not required, he encourages all moped riders to wear them for added protection.
To learn more on the new moped laws, click here.