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Why are mopeds, which are limited by N.C. DMV to 30 mph, allowed on roads that carry higher speed limits?

Brian Freskos

North Carolina law allows mopeds to operate on any street, road or highway, regardless of the speed limit. But the vehicles themselves cannot exceed 30 mph on a level surface, according to Marge Howell, public information officer for the N.C. Division of Motor Vehicles.

The speed at which they travel is regulated because mopeds do not require a driver’s license to operate them, nor do the vehicles have to be registered, inspected or covered by liability insurance, according to the N.C. DMV. But an operator must be 16 or older, wear a helmet and keep the headlight on.

Related links:

Why aren’t moped drivers required to have insurance? Who pays if a moped is at fault in an accident?

Can someone get arrested for drunken driving while on a scooter? How about a bicycle?

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8 Responses to “ Why are mopeds, which are limited by N.C. DMV to 30 mph, allowed on roads that carry higher speed limits?”

  1. On September 9, 2010 at 9:02 am Landon wrote:

    Not entirely true. When merging onto interstate highways and some major US/State highways there are signs posted specifying that vehicles under 50cc are prohibited. Any moped/scooter that does not require a license to operate is under 50cc.

  2. On September 9, 2010 at 10:21 am Chris Ware wrote:

    There are actually at least 3 criteria that determines if a moped is not required to be licensed.
    1. Must not exceed 30 mph on a level surface.
    2. Must not have an engine size greater than 50cc.
    3. Must not have a manual shifting transmission.

    Any scooter outside of this criteria is considered a motorcycle, must have an operator that has a motorcycle endorsement on his valid license, must carry liability insurance, must have vehicle inspections and must display a valid license plate.

    There are hundreds, if not thousands of scooters on the roads that violate this criteria and are fully illegal. It is common to see these scooters running 45-50 mph with no plates or insurance and they are advertised for sale by many dealers and on Craigslist as “legal”.

    Why local law enforcement does not enforce these laws is beyond me. This is part of the question that was asked that you have not answered.

  3. On September 10, 2010 at 3:01 pm Tom wrote:

    I saw 2 police man ( they were in swat uniforms, all black) interigating a college kid for running 32 mph on the road with out having it licensed. They were searching his back pack and everything. I was the most time consuming ” BUST” I had ever seen. After 20 minutes they let him go. We dont need the moped nazis out there, I agree that they should not be allowed to run 40-50 mph and I dont really like them in the middle of the lane driving.

  4. On September 10, 2010 at 4:03 pm Brian Freskos wrote:

    Thank you for both your comments. We placed a call back to the DMV and found that the North Carolina Department of Transportation does post minimum speed of travel on some roads and highways. If the minimum speed of travel is over 30 mph, then mopeds would be barred from traversing that facility.

  5. On September 12, 2010 at 9:14 pm Matt wrote:

    This a bit off topic, but important info not known by many motorists. Mopeds and scooters have just as much right to the whole lane of travel as car. There are many local law enforcement officials that have stated it is safer for a moped/scooter to ride in the center of the lane. They should be treated like a slow moving vehicle and only passed when it is safe and legal to.

  6. On September 20, 2010 at 8:32 pm Larry wrote:

    Think of them as bicycles with motors. I always ride mine as fast as it’ll go. I ride in the center of the lane until I see it’s safe ahead for someone behind me to pass then I slow and get over. BTW, I’m not drunk and I have a license with zero points.

  7. On February 10, 2011 at 5:19 pm David wrote:

    “A moped should travel using the right-hand side of the lane. To pass a moped yo must stay at least two feet to the left.” Who would take there life in others hand on a road at 45-70 miles per hour.

  8. On March 8, 2014 at 9:54 am Tim wrote:

    sometimes people get confused by speed limits. There is a maximum speed limit which most speed limits signs are refering to and a minimum speed limit. The only roads I know that has a minimum speed limit is major interstates.

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