A new law that provides for tighter moped and scooter regulations makes perfect sense. What doesn’t is why it took the Indiana General Assembly five years to pass the legislation.

As of Jan. 1, moped operators had to register and plate their vehicles. Also, the law says that moped and scooter operators must:

  • Have valid state identification with an endorsement showing they have passed a Bureau of Motor Vehicles test on road signs.
  • Not carry passengers.
  • Observe a 35 mph speed limit.
  • Wear a helmet if younger than age 18.

The law makes sense for several reasons. First is safety. Drivers of scooters and mopeds should have to prove they know what road signs mean — just like other motorists on the road. If they don’t, they shouldn’t be on the road at all. Allowing them to do so would endanger other motorists and increase the possibility of accidents.

Prohibiting moped and scooter operators from carrying passengers also is an important safety feature of the law. Since people as young as 15 can operate them, it’s wise to keep the operator’s focus on the road and not a passenger. Reducing potential distractions such as passengers can only reduce the odds of an accident and injury. And prohibiting moped and scooter drivers from going faster than 35 mph means they’re more likely to have control of the vehicles at safer speeds.

Requiring mopeds to be registered and plated is equally important. Should one be involved in an accident, and the operator flees the scene, the ability to get a plate number and track down information about the owners will aid in a police investigation. The same is true if these vehicles are stolen. Without registration, the odds of reclaiming the property are not good.

State Rep. Milo Smith, R-Columbus, whose district includes the southern part of Edinburgh, deserves recognition for his determined pursuit in getting this legislation passed. Five years is a while to stick with a bill that puzzlingly wasn’t getting sufficient support.

Fortunately, other legislators finally realized during last year’s legislative session just how much this benefits every Hoosier community and makes roads safer.

At issue

For years, moped operators used their machines with few enforceable regulations.

Our point

A state law that went into effect this year implements common-sense safety measures.