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South Carolina's moped laws are changing

For many people in the Myrtle Beach area, mopeds are a convenient, economical means of transportation. You need to know that the laws in South Carolina that govern the use of mopeds are changing, in an effort to make moped riders safer.

In May, South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster signed new legislation that:

  • Requires moped drivers who are under age 21 to wear a helmet
  • Requires moped owners to register their mopeds with the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles

The new laws go into effect on November 1, 2018.

Other pieces of the proposed legislation never made it to the governor's desk. Those were: requiring insurance; requiring the use of reflective vests when riding at night; requiring that drivers pass a skills test. 

Supporters of the legislation have said they were not happy with those exclusions, but they will continue to work to make them law.

Rising number of moped accidents in South Carolina

What's behind this effort to pass new moped laws? The legislation is a response to the increasing number of moped-related injuries and fatalities in South Carolina.

Moped fatalities have been rising steadily and are at an all-time high in the state, according to the Department of Motor Vehicles. In 2015, there were 45 moped-related fatalities and 819 collisions. That's up from 2010's statistics of 21 fatalities and 68 collisions.

There are other reasons why legislators have been trying to pass the new laws:

  • Mopeds in the state are increasing in popularity, which is being spurred by the low cost to own and the ease of parking a moped
  • Mopeds are difficult to see at night
  • Mopeds move slowly and create a hazard in high-speed traffic areas

In addition, a skills test is not required to legally drive a moped.

Moped safety tips

Motor vehicle laws are meant to protect drivers and passengers. While the moped laws haven't caught up to common-sense safety, there are things you can do now to protect yourself. Here are moped safety tips from the Motorcycle Safety Foundation.

  • Wear a helmet.
  • Don't ride while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Wear eye protection (an object moving at very low speeds can cause permanent damage).
  • Wear clothing that makes you visible, especially on your upper back, which is the surface that offers the most visual exposure to other vehicles.
  • Know your moped. Read the owner's manual and practice driving the moped in a controlled environment before taking it on the road.
  • Follow the maintenance recommendations for your moped. It's especially important to make sure your machine's lights and turn signals are functioning properly.
  • Ride with your knees on the floor board and your knees inside the frame of the moped.
  • Use your horn when necessary.
  • Do not assume other motorists see you. Always be alert to what is happening around you and don't ride in a vehicle's blind spot.

You should also anticipate other motorists' possible actions, such as turning and changing lanes.

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Surfside Beach, SC 29575

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