We are still discussing a proposal in the General Assembly that would require North Carolina’s moped drivers to register their vehicles. When it was originally introduced, the bill included a provision requiring moped drivers to purchase insurance. Opponents apparently articulated their objections well, because the version that passed from the House to the Senate called for registration.
The Senate, however, amended the bill again, this time requiring that moped drivers meet the “financial responsibility” requirements imposed on drivers of other motor vehicles. Drivers would have to provide proof of insurance or a security bond in order to register their mopeds.
What’s the deal? For one reason or another, mopeds have gained in popularity over the past decade or so. Between 2003 and 2012, though, the increase in use coincided with a 290 percent jump in crashes involving mopeds. Nearly 850 crashes during that period involved a moped and a motor vehicle. (The statistic does not define “motor vehicle,” but it may be safe to assume that they are referring to cars, trucks and motorcycles.)
Proponents say that registering mopeds would allow police to track down the owner of a moped involved in an accident or used in a crime. Opponents say it is a money-making gambit that will punish low-income individuals, people trying to make ends meet — especially those whose driving privileges have been suspended or revoked. The financial responsibility requirement could prove especially burdensome to these populations.
The bill addresses how insurers should treat mopeds in some instances, but questions remain. For example, if a driver has several impaired driving convictions, he can lose his license. The state will also revoke the registration of all “motor vehicles” registered to him and bar him from registering another vehicle until his driving privileges are restored. The driver is now left without any vehicle to get to work or to a treatment program.
If the bill becomes law, these discrepancies may be addressed during the rule-making process. The bill is now with the Senate Finance Committee awaiting discussion and, perhaps, a public hearing. If the bill passes the Senate but does not mirror the House bill, the debate will continue until those differences are settled.
We’ll keep an eye out.
WRAL, “Moped insurance bill advances,” Laura Leslie, June 19, 2014
North Carolina General Assembly, HB 1145, accessed June 26, 2014
West’s North Carolina General Statutes Annotated, via Westlaw.com