Donny Skilton rides his moped on an Upstate road. (File/FOX Carolina)
GREENVILLE, SC (FOX Carolina) -
On the street many call them liquor cycles, but others believe the two wheel cycles known as mopeds are a much-needed form of transportation.
Many drivers find themselves beside mopeds or behind them on the road. Moped riders are seen throughout the Upstate, even on streets they aren't supposed to be on according to the law.
During a FOX Carolina investigation, a crew took a look at who's behind the wheel and why some people want to see mopeds parked for good.
"If they're not safe to be on the road in a car, what makes people think they're safe to be on a moped," Vicki Fields asked.
Her brother, Gregory Johnson, died two years ago when he lost control of his moped and slammed into a tree. Fields said he shouldn't have been on the road because he lost his license. However, South Carolina law states drivers can still operate mopeds even if their license is suspended.
"There is a degree of empathy, if you will, for folks who find themselves in that category. And what are they going to do?" Sen. Larry Martin said.
Martin represents the Pickens County area and said he supports moped riders being on the road, but there are loopholes that should be changed.
In South Carolina, a moped by law is a cycle with pedals or without pedals and a small motor; its power cannot exceed two brake horsepower; and it is set at a speed that does not exceed 30 mph.
And because the way the law is written, Martin said many judges have had to throw out driving under the influence (DUI) charges. He said tractor and bicycle riders are also exempt from DUI laws, but he believes some areas of the law can be changed immediately.
"The first thing we could do is put insurance requirements on them," Martin said.
Martin said mopeds have their place on the road, if riders use them legally. Riders aren't currently required to have insurance.
While some moped riders have suspended licenses because of unpaid tickets or restricted licenses because of medical problems, some use them because they are good on gas and convenient.
One Upstate moped rider, Donny Skilton, told FOX Carolina it typically costs him $3 a week to fill up his moped, which he relies on to get him to and from work.
Many other drivers on the road are wary of mopeds and the potential risk of wrecks. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety, the number of accidents involving mopeds is on the rise. In 2010, there were 21 deaths and 610 injuries compared with 2006 when there were 5 deaths and 262 injuries.
Additionally, in order to ride a moped driver must be at least 14 years old and if they're under 21, they must wear a helmet.
Copyright 2012 FOX Carolina (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.
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