A major Myrtle Beach mo-ped rental firm is taking a most welcome proactive stance regarding the myriad traffic safety issues with the pesky two-wheelers that have become more than an annoyance to motorists along the Grand Strand and around the state.
The slow-moving, unlicensed, unregulated mo-peds, along with golf carts – which are largely covered by motor vehicle regulations – are quite popular with tourists. The number of mo-peds available for rent has multiplied like rabbits, prompting the city to draft and initially approve an ordinance regulating rental outlets. The regulations are on track for second reading Tuesday.
In the General Assembly, comprehensive legislation has been approved by the House and has advanced through committee in the Senate. Sen. Greg Hembree of Little River is holding the bill pending meeting with an objector. A former solicitor for Georgetown and Horry counties, Hembree has called attention to the fact that South Carolina requires neither registration of mo-peds as motor vehicles nor licensing of operators.
Law enforcement officers around the state have been frustrated by the absence of mo-ped regulations. Hembree and other legislators have recognized the problems in allowing persons who have lost their drivers licenses, perhaps because of DUI violations, to legally operate mo-peds. The pending legislation will close this serious gap in the traffic code.
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On the municipal level, regulations generally cannot go beyond state law. The Myrtle Beach ordinance also reflects the concerns of rental businesses, a group of which met with city officials. The ordinance would require registration with the city of vehicles and certification, through a training course, that renters are capable of operating the machines. Renters would have to be at least 18 years old.
Now Ben Robinson, owner of three mo-ped and golf car rental firms operating in seven locations with about 400 vehicles, has outlined several steps his companies are taking to address issues with mo-peds, scooters and golf carts. Robinson has hired four additional employees “to help identify problem drivers, correct their violations and confiscate equipment if deemed necessary.”
Technology can play a major role in improving safety, Robinson wrote city officials. GPS systems on golf carts and scooters will allow monitoring and “allows us to shut down the engine of any of our units selectively or collectively with the use of a smart phone.” Other technology can provide collision avoidance systems that could help keep mo-peds and golf carts out of bike-only lanes.
City manager John Pedersen understandably appreciates Robinson’s pro-active approach in making efforts “... to increase safety, reduce the number of accidents, and reduce the impact the [rental] industry has on our community.” Surely it is to Robinson’s credit that he recognizes “the excesses sometimes associated with mo-ped and golf cart rentals.”
Mo-ped and golf cart useage will continue to grow, and they will no doubt continue to annoy motorists. However, municipal and private business can and should cooperate in making golf cart, mo-ped and scooter operation as safe as possible. Myrtle Beach should approve its ordinance and other rental firms should take a cue from Robinson.
Traffic safety improvement in best interest of all
“After attending several workshops and city council meetings over the last two months, we decided it was in everyone’s best interest to consult with our product factory in efforts to increase safety, reduce the number of accidents, and reduce the impact the industry has on our community.” – Ben Robinson, president and owner, Moped Rentals of Myrtle Beach, Rent Me Superstore, Golf Cart Rentals of Myrtle Beach, in letter to city of Myrtle Beach