The North Carolina Senate has passed a bill which requires moped drivers to register their vehicles with the state and carry insurance. The vote was 36-11.
It remains to seen if the House will go along. The House measure passed earlier in the session requires registration but not insurance.
The Senate bill would subjecting mopeds to similar titling and registration requirements as motorcycles under and further require financial responsibility for the lawful operation of a moped. These minimum insurance requirements are:
- $30,000 for bodily injuries or death to one person in a single accident.
- $60,000 for bodily injuries or deaths to more than one person in a single accident.
- $25,000 for property damage occurring in a single accident.
Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville has pushed for the insurance requirement, arguing that moped accidents and related deaths are increasing and moped operators should be held accountable.
Opponents of the insurance mandate claim it will hurt people who use mopeds because they can’t afford a car or the insurance. In testimony before lawmakers, witnesses offered estimates of the cost of a moped insurance policy that ranged from $65 to $400 to $1,000 a year.
A moped dealer told lawmakers he feared the insurance cost would hinder sales.
The legislative fiscal analysis of the bill estimates there are 8,000 mopeds sold in the state each year and about 17,000 currently in operation on North Carolina streets and roads. Therefore, the state estimates the law could lead to the registration of 25,000 mopeds in the first year, with an average of 8,000 every year thereafter.
The bill could mean as much as $1.4 million in revenues for the state, according to the fiscal analysis. The $15 registration fee could bring in about $375,000 the first year and another $125,000 every subsequent year. In addition, the state would see more than $960,000 in revenues the first year from fees for certificates of title ($40 each) and about $300,000 each subsequent year.
The analysis did not estimate potential revenues from late fees and penalties, duplicate plates or titles or registration transfers.
The Department of Motor Vehicles estimates the law would cost the state more than $1 million for the hiring of 10 additional law enforcement officers to perform moped inspections, along with processing costs, license plates and data processing.
Mopeds are defined as two-or three-wheeled vehicles with a maximum speed of 30 mph. So-called “pocket bikes” and “motor scooters” would not be regulated under the bill.
Under North Carolina law, moped operators may ride on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or under and they must be at least 16 years of age. They do not need to have a driver’s license.