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Mo-ped sales on the rise amid high gas prices

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High gas prices and a slowly improving economy have revved up Indiana mo-ped sales, according to dealers in the state.

Mo-ped sales at Indianapolis-based Midwest Scooters have doubled within the past six months, said Steve Schafer, the store's general manager.

Mo-peds — defined by Indiana law as scooters with engines no larger than 50cc and that travel no faster than 25 mph — do not have to be registered with the Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Anyone 15 or older with a driver's license or state-issued identification card may operate one. Insurance is not required.

The unregistered vehicles are commonly associated with riders who had lost their driving privileges because of drunken driving arrests, Schafer said. But higher gas prices have made the vehicles — which cost anywhere from $600 to $3,000 — more popular as a cost-effective means of transportation for both adults and teens.

Schafer anticipates sales will pick up even more during the next few weeks as high school students start their summer vacations.

A mo-ped regulation bill died early in conference committee at the Indiana General Assembly session.

The number of mo-peds in Indiana is unknown, largely because they are not required to be registered, according to a March report by the state's Legislative Services Agency.

If mo-peds were more tightly regulated, Indiana could generate revenue from registration, license and identification card fees.

Last year, the state generated $5.5 million after the Bureau of Motor Vehicles completed more than 212,000 motorcycle registration transactions.

A Lafayette businessman said mo-ped sales are so good, he is installing sound systems on them.

Travis Kearney of Lafayette recently started installing MP3-compatible speakers in glove boxes in the motorized bikes.

The speakers can connect to amplify any device with a headphone jack, including smartphones, iPods and MP3 players, which also fit in the glove box.

Kearney, 34, said he started the service after noticing that today's riders and passengers now want more amenities — especially music — on their mo-peds.

The part-time medical interpreter said his service has generated a steady flow of orders.

Kearney said with speakers, riders aren't wearing headphones and fiddling with MP3 players while moving.

Wearing headphones while operating a mo-ped is not illegal in Indiana, but Indiana State Police Sgt. David Murray said it can be a distraction to drivers.

"Any distraction — regardless of the source — that takes away from your attention to the road is dangerous," Murray said.

Natasha Davis of Lafayette originally purchased a mo-ped for her 16-year-old daughter so she could cruise around town with her friends.

In April, Davis hired Kearney to install the speakers because her daughter wanted to listen to music while she drove.

She said the service — which starts at $150 for a basic installation — was worth the money.

"It looks great," Davis said. "She doesn't want to get off of it now, so I think she loves it."

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  • Mo-peds
    Anything with a motor should require both a license plate, insurance, must be at least 16, a driver's license with proof of passing a driving test for such vehicles, safety inspection and require a helmet for all riders. No one under 18 should be allowed to carry passengers. They should have brake and headlights and be capable of doing the speed limit on the roads they are on, or be restricted to bike lanes or sidewalks (without endangering pedestrians or bike riders). That's the common sense regulations that should be required. Plus they'll pay taxes like we car deivers do.
  • Law needs changed
    The worst part of these mopeds on the road is lack of insurance. I had a person last year on one that ran a stop sign and I hit him on my motorcycle. Because he did not have to have insurance my insurance company paid for my my damage and then my rates increased because of the claim and I had to pay my $500 deductible. I could not use my uninsured motorist policy because they are not required to have insurance.
  • Learners Permit
    I agree with everything Chris said, in addition, scooter drivers need to have at least a motorcycle learners permit from the BMV. It is a written test only, and should be passed prior to operating a scooter. (Getting the motorcycle license requires a learners permit and a driving test)
  • Responsible scootering.
    A Moped is a motorized vehicle that has both a motor and pedals. Virtually all the vehicles referenced here are in fact scooters. Also most scooters seen on our streets have a designed speed of greater than 25mph, hence they should be plated, insured and riders need the proper licensing to operate them. If you see a scooter and it is not plated you can bet that it is being opeated illegally. If you have a scooter or a moped and want to learn more please meet our group of responsible scooter riders at 3wise men in Broadripple on Tuesdays at 7pm. If you would like to join our group ride please have valid plates and be insured. Happy and safe scootering people.

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