With gas prices hovering around four dollars a gallon, many Hoosiers are in search of some relief. For some that could mean carpooling with a coworker, and for others, that could mean riding a bike or investing in a moped, depending on the commute. Now that the beautiful weather is here to stay, I anticipate seeing more and more people choosing the latter.
Mopeds can be very appealing; they’re in high-demand, they’re inexpensive, they get great gas mileage and you can almost always find room to park them. What you may not know about mopeds though, is that since my time joining the Legislature, the Indiana General Assembly has been debating the best way to regulate them. This may sound petty, but if you have been involved in an accident with a moped, or have even witnessed one, you probably understand the need for these conversations all too well.
Under current law, mopeds, or motor driven cycles, are not placed in categories, are not registered with the BMV and do not require a license or insurance. In recent years, there has been some opposition to proposed moped legislation due to concerns that motorists who had lost their driver’s license needed to have some form of transportation available to them. This is particularly important for them to have an opportunity to get to work in areas that don’t have public transportation.
After years of discussion, research and collaboration with industry experts, this session we were finally able to pass legislation regarding these motor driven cycles; legislation that I believe puts safety first and is reasonable, smart public policy.
One of the first things you must do when creating legislation regarding mopeds is define what they are. House Enrolled Act (HEA) 1343 does that by adding definitions for classes of motor driven cycles. In layman’s terms, Class A motor driven cycles are more powerful, having a cylinder capacity greater than 50 cubic centimeters (cc), while Class B are those with a capacity of 50cc and less.
As a result of the legislation passed this session, in order to operate a Class A motor driven cycle, one must have a valid driver’s license and insurance. For the less powerful Class B cycles, operators are not required to have insurance, but are required to have a state-issued ID card with a motor driven cycle endorsement. Not requiring Class B operators to have insurance provides a way for individuals with suspended licenses to transport themselves to and from work to support their families and get back on track.
Despite these differences, this legislation requires operators of both classes to register their motor driven cycle with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles and display a license plate. Each class will have a different color of license plate to allow law enforcement to more clearly determine their categories. This is particularly important when dealing with a crime or accident. Increasingly, we have experienced a problem with moped operators simply leaving the scene after an accident. Without registration, there is no way to identify the driver if they flee. Requiring registration not only serves as a safeguard for other drivers, but also encourages more accountability.
Any responsible discussion about moped regulation needed to begin with safety, and I was pleased to see that it did. As you can see, this end product takes into account both the needs of the operators of motor driven cycles as well as other motorists. In 2012 alone, there were 24 traffic deaths involving mopeds in Indiana. Twenty-four may not seem like a big number, but when you are talking about lives, it is, and my sincere hope and belief is that this legislation will help make our roads safer for everyone, regardless of their mode of transportation.