Most anyone who drives on S.C. roads has had mo-ped experiences ranging from annoyance with their pokey speed to dangerous situations caused by irresponsible operation by the driver of a two-wheeler.
One problems is that they are virtually unregulated in South Carolina, with neither registration of the machine nor licensing of the operator. State Sen. Greg Hembree of Little River is determined to change that.
“We’re going to regulate mo-peds in South Carolina,” Hembree told members of the Rotary Club of Little River.
A person can be completely under the influence of alcohol, for example, and ride a mo-ped completely free of the laws that apply to drivers of other vehicles. Law enforcement officers are powerless to charge an operator of a mo-ped, says Hembree. Currently there are “no restrictions whatsoever” on mo-peds or their operators.
The lack of regulation allows people who have lost their drivers license, perhaps because of DUI violations, to legally operate a mo-ped.
In the first half of 2015, five people have been killed on mo-peds in Horry County. The victims included a 63-year-old woman and four men, ages 18, 21, 37 and 48.
From his experience as a prosecutor – he served for 14 as solicitor for Horry and Georgetown counties – Hembree has the background to recognize a serious problem that can and must be corrected. Of course, mo-peds and the people who ride them should be subject to the same regulations as other vehicles, including motorcycles, and their operators. It may be another quirk of S.C. governance that mo-peds have escaped regulation. But that surely needs to change.
Hembree noted that even the S.C. definition of a mo-ped is clouded, because the state has three. Generally, mo-peds cannot go faster than 35 miles per hour on level ground and are powered by a motor no bigger than 50 cubic centimeters.
According to the non-governmental website DMV.ORG, mo-ped and motor scooters are “tame cousins of motorcycles [and] are one and the same in the eyes of North Carolina’s Division of Motor Vehicles.”
In Georgia, if a mo-ped or scooter engine is more powerful than 50 cubic centimeters or can go faster than 30 mph, the rules for motorcycles apply. Georgia does not permit mo-peds on roads where the minimum speed limit is above 35 mph. Operators must have a valid drivers license.
Hembree described regulation of mo-peds as “the really big one [among issues] to be done.” Also on Hembree’s agenda: eliminating outdated laws from the S.C. Code, which includes “some stuff from the 1820s.”
“This is cleaning out drawers,” Hembree says citing a law requiring a motorist to stop at a railroad crossing, get out of the auto, walk around it and then honk the horn before proceeding over the tracks.
Hembre’s plan “to offer a comprehensive law” regulating mo-peds should be a priority for the General Assembly and other members of the Horry County delegation should support Hembree’s initiative.
2015 Horry deaths
▪ Drowning | 8
▪ Mo-ped | 5
▪ Motorcycle | 9
▪ Pedestrian | 5
▪ Vehicle | 14
Interactive map showing location of fatalities so far in 2015 is available at MyrtleBeachOnline.com: http://ow.ly/PI3M4