Renewed push to require moped riders under 21 to wear helmets

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Moped riders under the age of 21 may soon be required to wear helmets.

Bills prefiled in the South Carolina House and Senate would create stricter restrictions for moped riders.

In 2015 there were 45 fatalities, and in 2016 there were 36 fatalities so far involving mopeds, according to K. Larry Long Jr. a statistician with the Office of Highway Safety and Justice Programs South Carolina Department of Public Safety.

For Ryan Johnson and Bryan Harrison, riding a moped is their only way to get around.

Johnson and Harrison are members of a club called the Moped Militia.

Johnson and Harrison are over 21.

Johnson wears a helmet, Harrison does not.

"I'm also of the feeling that it should be a rider's discretion and if your head's not important, don't really need you on the road," Johnson said.

"I think you should have to wear a helmet if you're below the age of 18, but once you're 18 you're an adult so you can make your own decision," Harrison said.

Caleb Crews disagrees.

Crews owns the Scooter Stop on James Island.

He sells and repairs mopeds.

Crews says he makes it a point to offer helmets and other safety features for sale.

"Safety is our first concern as a dealership for our customers to ride on a safe road, get there safe," Crews said.

The bill also calls for moped riders to wear reflective vests at night.

Johnson says that won't necessarily prevent accidents.

"The problem is you still have people who don't ever pay attention to cars on the road and lighting something up isn't gonna really do any better," Johnson said.

The bills also would lower the minimum age for moped riders from 15 to 14.

Drivers also would have to register with the DMV.

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