Moped deaths up dramatically in South Carolina

File image of a moped wreck

South Carolina roads are a dangerous place for moped riders this year.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol says there have been 18 moped deaths in the state so far in 2014, more than double the seven deaths that took place during the same period in 2013.

One local motorist says he thinks he knows what the problem is.

"I think a lot of it has to do with operator error, being on roads they have no business being on," said Don Shive of Myrtle Beach.

But the manager of Go Fast Scooters in Myrtle Beach, who rides a moped to work every day, says we shouldn't blame the mopeds.

"It's pretty much other drivers (at fault). I would say a lot of tourists in town, not really used to seeing them around," said Nick Dobeck.

Highway Patrol Cpl. Sonny Collins says moped accidents often happen on major highways like U.S. 501.

He says that's where mopeds are struck from behind by drivers who look away from the road for just a moment.

Last year, the SC legislature took up a bill that would have required moped riders to wear reflective vests and have flashing red lights on their mopeds.

It would have also been illegal for mopeds to be on roads that have a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or more.

The bill easily passed in the House, but died in a Senate committee.

Shive believes the moped bill was on the right track.

"Since I heard that the average speed of those (mopeds) is 25 miles an hour, they don't belong on any road that's got a higher speed limit," he said.

But Dobeck, who has sold mopeds to people working in tourism jobs, says banning them from major highways wouldn't be good.

"Yeah, lot of people would be out of jobs, for sure," he said.

Collins says he encourages moped riders to wear reflective clothing and try to avoid major highways during the busiest traffic times of the day.

He says the reason for more moped deaths could simply be that there are many more mopeds on the road today.

So far this year, there has been one moped death in Horry County, the same as during the same period last year.