Gov. Nikki Haley has vetoed a bill that would require moped drivers younger than 21 to wear helmets and mandate all moped drivers wear reflective vests at night.
Haley wrote in her veto message Friday that the bill’s requirements are inconsistent with laws for similar vehicles and constitute government overreach.
“I believe that adults over the age of 18 – who are allowed to vote and serve our military – should decide for themselves what they should wear for their personal safety,” she said.
State law already requires motorcycle drivers or passengers under 21 to wear a helmet.
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State Sen. Greg Hembree, R-Horry, who has pushed for moped safety measures since 2012, said the intent was to apply that requirement “to a vehicle that’s even more dangerous, in my opinion, than a motorcycle.”
Hembree said lawmakers studying the issue found most people killed while driving mopeds were killed at night and were hit from behind.
“They’re riding on the highway going 30, and a car goes up behind them going 55 or 60 and, by the time they see them, they hit them,” he said.
Reflective vests are a cheap and effective solution, he said.
The bill also would require drivers to register their mopeds with the Department of Motor Vehicles and follow the same traffic rules as all other vehicles. It would raise the minimum age to drive a moped to 15 from 14.
Haley said she supports parts of the bill that give mopeds a single definition under state law and require them to have working lights at night.
She said she wants to work next year to adopt a moped safety bill that “balances public safety with personal responsibility.”
Lawmakers will return to Columbia Wednesday to decide whether to overturn Haley’s veto.
The bill passed the S.C. Senate by 41-to-1 vote and the House by 68-31.