- Associated Press - Wednesday, July 16, 2014

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) - Whether North Carolina will require moped drivers to carry insurance remains a sticking point in a bill to create new regulations for the motorized scooters.

The state Senate passed a bill Wednesday that requires that drivers both register their moped with the Division of Motor Vehicles and have insurance coverage for it. A House version passed several weeks ago only requires registration.

Sen. Tom Apodaca, R-Hendersonville, said the insurance mandate is necessary because accidents and deaths involving mopeds continue to increase. Those responsible should be held financially accountable, he said.

“I don’t think that’s a large price for someone to pay to be driving 20-25 miles an hour in between cars doing 55 miles per hour,” Apodaca said.

Opponents of the insurance requirement said it will hurt working people who use mopeds to go to work and it could cost them up to $400 annually. Supporters disputed that figure.

Sen. Floyd McKissick, a Democrat, proposed two amendments that failed. One would have removed the insurance provision and established a study to determine the cost of a mandate. The other would have delayed implementation of the insurance requirement by a year.

He also noted that several other states do not require insurance for mopeds.

Lawmakers have said registering mopeds would make it easier for law enforcement to identify and keep track of them on the road and when they are used in crimes. Moped store owners said the insurance requirement will hinder sales.

To register, moped drivers would also pay a $40 title fee and a $15 or $22 registration fee depending on whether the bike has a sidecar. State law currently allows mopeds to ride on streets where the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. The fees would bring in at least $1.4 million to the state annually. The DMV estimates there are 17,000 mopeds on North Carolina roads.

The bill now goes to the House.

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