HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Riding a moped is a very popular way to get around the islands. For some, it's the only mode of transportation. State lawmakers are looking at legislation they say will make riding a moped safer.
Under current state law, anyone with a valid driver's license can operate a moped. Moped owners also pay a one-time, $15 fee to register the vehicle, the same way a bicycle is registered.
State Rep. Ty Cullen (D-Royal Kunia, Village Park, Waipahu, Makakilo, West Loch) wants to change that by "making annual registration for mopeds, and annual safety checks for mopeds, and also including a rider safety course for moped riders."
Under House Bill 2393, the annual moped registration fee would be $15. Moped inspections are already required in Maui County and on the Big Island of Hawaii.
Cullen said there are as many as 30,000 mopeds registered in the state. He also said there were 354 mopeds involved in traffic accidents on public roadways in 2012.
"This bill is trying to be proactive on insuring that the mopeds people are riding are safe, and the riders themselves know how to operate them in a safe manner," said Cullen.
Jeremy Neal of Mopeds Direct, which has sold mopeds since 1989, said safety is paramount. But he believes requiring a safety course unfairly singles out moped riders.
"There's five times more pedestrian deaths, there's five times more motorcycle deaths, there's eight times more drownings than moped-related injuries," said Neal.
State law also keeps the legal maximum speed for mopeds at 30 miles per hour. Neal contends that speed should be brought up to the federal maximum of 45 miles per hour, which would make it safer for moped riders by allowing them to keep up with other motor vehicles on surface streets.
The bill is scheduled to go before the House Transportation Committee in House conference room 309 at the State Capitol, Monday at 10 a.m.