• 59°

Will mo-ped drivers need license?

By Karissa Minn
kminn@salisburypost.com
Every day, Woodleaf resident Joe Rogers rides to work on a mo-ped.
The motorized scooter can only travel up to 30 miles per hour and provides no protection from the weather. But it’s the only option he has to drive himself to work without a license.
“I don’t care how cold it is,” Rogers said. “I have to get to work to support my five grandchildren.”
Rogers, who runs a handyman service, lost his driver’s license about 15 years ago for driving while impaired. He was charged again for habitual impaired driving 10 years ago, but since then his record is clear.
“I was a real heavy drinker,” he said. “Now, I haven’t had a drink or a ticket in years, but I still don’t have my license.”
At least 17 states have adopted laws requiring mo-ped drivers to carry a license for their vehicles. Two such bills have been brought up in the North Carolina House and Senate. They died in committee in 2009, but at least one co-sponsor says it will likely be re-introduced.
N.C. Rep. Bill McGee, R-Forsyth, said the House bill he co-sponsored was introduced for safety reasons.
“It’s important for people on the highways to have knowledge of the law that they are to abide by on the roadway,” McGee said. “When you ride a bicycle, you don’t have to have a license, but a mo-ped is a motor vehicle.”
Currently, a person must be 16 years old to drive a mo-ped and riders must wear a safety helmet. A mo-ped cannot have a motor of more than 50 cubic centimeters, an external shifting device or have the capability of exceeding 30 miles per hour on a level surface, or it must be registered as a motorcycle.
Another bill introduced in the House that died in committee would have required registration, tags and insurance for mo-peds.
Tom Crosby, spokesman with AAA Carolinas, said AAA would be in favor of both kinds of laws in North Carolina.
According to the National Highway Traffic Administration, the number of mo-ped-related fatalities nearly doubled from 48 to 96 between 2005 and 2009.
“Often, mo-peds are not sufficiently powered to maintain safe traveling speeds with four-wheeled vehicles,” Crosby said. “The speed differential can be a killer.”
He said requiring mo-ped drivers to be licensed would help train them to deal with these dangers.
Mo-ped accidents this past summer and fall in Rowan County resulted in critical injuries and a near amputation. One involved alcohol, and the other was caused when the mo-ped driver failed to yield.
Darian Wagoner, owner of Motts Powersports in Salisbury, said he doesn’t mind mandatory registration and insurance for mo-peds. But if mo-ped riders had to have driver’s licenses, that would “greatly affect” his business.
“I had a guy in here this morning who is not mentally capable of acquiring a driver’s license, but he can get around,” Wagoner said. “What people think these are for — and the majority are — is people with DWIs who lost their licenses, but there are others, too.”
He said the law would hurt people like Rogers who rely on mo-peds as job transportation.
Rogers looked into getting his license reinstated two years ago, but he said the process is complicated and costly. Attending special classes and participating in a state hearing could cost thousands of dollars.
“You could buy a house — a down payment on one — with what they charge you,” Rogers said. “There’s no way I can afford that.”
He said he wouldn’t mind having to register his vehicle with a tag and buying liability insurance, but requiring a driver’s license would “destroy” him.
“How would I go to work?” Rogers said. “Walking is a greater risk and takes too long. I could ride a bicycle, but I’d have to leave at 4 a.m. some days.”
To deal with the dangers of the road, Rogers said he drives carefully, keeps an eye on his mirrors, goes the maximum speed and moves out of the way of incoming cars.
“If you respect them, they respect you,” Rogers said. “People see me every day, they know I’m going to work and they respect me.”
Contact reporter Karissa Minn at 704-797-4222.

Comments

Comments closed.

Education

A.L. Brown celebrates seniors with signing day

Business

Rebounding, but not recovered: Rowan County tourism begins challenging path toward normalcy

High School

High school baseball: Padgett leads Mustangs; 100th win for West coach Graham

Coronavirus

RSS superintendent, Board of Health discuss strategies for increasing student vaccination rates

Nation/World

Gas stations report shortages as pipeline shutdown drags on

News

Lawyers: Black man didn’t drive into deputies who shot him

Nation/World

Liz Cheney says Trump and GOP backers threaten democracy

Coronavirus

Rowan Health Department clarifies county’s COVID-19 death total is 301

Landis

Landis approves new land development ordinance, zoning map

Landis

Landis approves body camera, stun gun purchase for public safety officers

Crime

One charged, another dead on sheriff’s most wanted list

Crime

No injuries after car shot eight times on Old Concord Road

Education

RSS talks first steps for new federal relief totaling $66 million

China Grove

Gary’s Barbecue staff, customers look back at 50 years

News

Salisbury Lions Club names Person of the Year, Lion of the Year at 78th annual banquet

Education

Student COVID-19 numbers show first decline since plan A

High School

High school golf: Fowler competes in state tournament

News

Amazon announces new distribution center for North Carolina

News

House passes bill to bar Cooper from mandating COVID shot

Coronavirus

Rowan County sees death 302 from COVID-19; Health Department to host final mass vaccine clinic

Ask Us

Ask Us: What happened to work on South Fulton Street home?

Crime

Blotter: Woman says she was shot in hand on Lincolnton Road

Crime

Rowan Sheriff’s Office charges Salisbury man with operating illegal gambling business

Crime

Blotter: Rockwell man arrested on felony drug, breaking and entering charges