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Hawaii Laws Are Specific Regarding Mopeds

In some ways, police treat mopeds the same as motorcycles: All mopeds in Hawaii must be registered, and you must either a driver’s license or motorcycle training. However, mopeds don’t require insurance and accidents are treated the same as bicycle accidents.

Not harmless vehicles

Mopeds may seem like harmless, souped-up bicycles, but the state Department of Transportation found that of the 19 deaths involving motorcycles, mopeds and scooters in 2016, six (31 percent) of them involved mopeds. Of the 25 deaths in 2017, five (20 percent) involved mopeds.

Licensing is important because it provides the training necessary to keep drivers safe. Allen Conrad, 24, was killed in a moped accident in Wahiawa in late September. Police say he lost control while speeding on his moped. A man following Conrad on a moped couldn’t avoid the accident and needed hospitalization after the crash.

The DOT says mopeds don’t require insurance. A moped accident is covered like a bicycle accident – if a moped hits a car, the car driver’s insurance covers the costs; if the moped damages property, the moped driver covers the costs. If you rent a moped, however, the renter must provide liability insurance.

Very specific laws for mopeds

The Department of Motor Vehicles defines mopeds as having two or three wheels, a drive system that doesn’t require a gear or clutch, and an engine of no more than 2 horsepower that can’t go faster than 30 mph. If they go faster than 30 mph, then the vehicle is classified as a motor scooter which has different insurance requirements.

The law requires that when you operate a moped:

  • You must wear a safety helmet if you are younger than 18
  • You must sit forward on the moped with one leg on each side
  • You can’t carry a passenger unless you are driving a 3-wheeler that is designed for two people
  • You must be 18 or older and have a driver’s license if you are from out of the state
  • You must have your moped inspected each year
  • If you are driving a 3-wheeler, you must also carry liability and property insurance coverage

Mopeds must travel in single file. Drivers should use bicycle lanes when they are available. They can’t go on freeways, nor are moped drivers allowed to hang on to another vehicle when the vehicle is in motion.

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