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South Carolina's moped and motorcycle and scooter laws. Oh, my!

Did you know that in South Carolina, the laws regarding motorcycles, mopeds and scooters are different? Recently, the South Carolina Highway Patrol sent informational pamphlets to law enforcement agencies across the state informing them of the variation under state law between these two-wheel vehicles.

Motorcycles, scooters and mopeds may look similar, but they are all very different in terms of how fast they can travel. Ultimately, this is why the laws are different among the two-wheel vehicles, said a spokesman for the state Highway Patrol. Following the right laws can help keep riders safe from a ticket, and more importantly, an accident, he said.

Scooters are known to be more powerful than mopeds and require that riders to have motorcycle licenses and insurance on their two-wheeler. On the other hand, mopeds do not require a special license or insurance, the Highway Patrol spokesman said.

When it comes to where the vehicles can travel, mopeds, motorcycles and scooters are allowed on any South Carolina highway; however, mopeds must stay at or below 25 miles per hour and must have a clearly visible "moped" tag, the spokesman said.

On average it's the younger people who choose mopeds because riders only need a regular driver's license or a Class G license, which can be obtained by riders as young as 14 years old. Scooters have a bigger engine than mopeds and go much faster, thus requiring the special motorcycle license.

The Highway Patrol spokesman said that for whatever reason, the number of two-wheelers on the roads is increasing, and that in order to stay safe, riders must know the laws. For example, moped riders must know to stay out of the left lane on highways, which is reserved for faster cars.

"The closing speed is so great, most motorists don't realize that mopeds are even there until the last minute," the Highway Patrol spokesman explained.

Additionally, he said moped and scooter riders should avoid riding on busy roads during rush hour, always wear clothing that makes them visible to drivers of cars and wear a helmet, even though moped riders are not required to do so under law.

Source: CarolinaLive.com, "Troopers spell out legal differences between mopeds, scooters," Joel Allen, Sept. 28, 2011.

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