Fatal moped accidents raise questions of stricter laws on certain roads

SC death reinforces moped safety, rules

HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A law went into effect in November classifying mopeds as motor vehicles, meaning all will need to be registered with the state. And though this is a stricter regulation, after two fatal accidents in two weeks, some officials say this isn’t enough.

Many of us driving through the Grand Strand come in contact with mopeds on roads with varying speed limits, that includes Horry County Representative Timothy McGinnis.

“I can remember one time driving down Highway 501 and the car in front of me seemingly slammed on the breaks and I nearly hit him and the person behind me nearly ran into me," McGinnis said. "Come to find out, there was a moped in front of this person and you couldn’t really see them that well until you were right up on it.”

Since June first, two fatal moped accidents have happened on highway 544 in Horry County, both late at night.

The Horry County Coroner’s Office says Ronald Wise, 37, died from multiple trauma to major organs, causing massive hemorrhages, when he was hit by a car that left the scene and killed on Highway 544 around 10:45 Thursday night.

Wise’s death is being investigated as a homicide by the South Carolina Highway Patrol. They ask if you see a Chevy Equinox, likely a 2010 to 2017 model, with front-end damage to call star H-P.

In a separate case, on June first, police say Juan Carlos Garcia-Olivares was driving under the influence when they say he hit Joshua Young who was driving a moped. That crash also happened late at night on Highway 544 near Joe Mill Trail.

Garcia-Olivares is charged with felony DUI resulting in death and no driver's license.

This raises the question: Should mopeds be allowed on busy highways with speed limits between 55 and 65 miles per hour?

In a previous interview with WMBF News, State Senator Greg Hembree says he supports mopeds being on the roads, but believes each municipality needs to decide where they should and should not be allowed.

“I can see where a moped can be safely operated out on a country highway in the western part of Horry County with no problem," Hembree said. "However, is it a good idea to have the moped operating on a 55-miles-per-hour busy stretch of road like Highway 17?”

McGinnis agrees with this and says going forward, city and state officials need to create stricter laws.

“I think if the vehicle can go 35 miles and under, then they should be restricted to 35 miles per hour and under," McGinnis said. "The rules of the road should apply to everybody, and that includes moped drivers. I understand that for some people who use mopeds to get from point a to point be. I think of their safety and them trying to get to work on Highway 501 in the morning.”

Hembree said although wearing a reflective vest is not required, he encourages all moped riders to wear them for added protection.

If you aren’t sure what the current laws for mopeds are, click here.

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