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What are Pennsylvania’s Moped Laws?

Posted on June 17, 2022

Mopeds are used by many in Pennsylvania as an economical means of transportation. Their small size dramatically increases fuel efficiency, reduces traffic congestion, and is cheaper to maintain. Since they are not quite bicycles, unique state laws apply to mopeds and their use. 

Moped Definition

In Pennsylvania, a moped is referred to as a “motor-driven cycle” that is equipped with petals and no more than 1.5 brake horsepower or an electric battery-powered motor. Its engine cannot exceed 50 cubic centimeters, must have an automatic transmission, and reach a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour. 

Can I Legally Drive a Moped on Surface Roads or Freeways?

Mopeds can be legally driven on surface roads as long as it is titled and registered in the commonwealth, and the operator must have a valid driver’s license and carry insurance. Registering a moped to obtain the proper license plates is similar to registering a motorcycle, but mopeds do not require inspections for safety or emissions purposes. The registration fee is nine dollars a year, and operators must hold a Class C (standard) driver’s license and have proof of insurance. However, mopeds are not appropriate to use on all roadways. For example, they are not powerful enough to be driven on a freeway as they would impede the normal flow of traffic. If you are unsure whether a moped can be operated on your travel route, it is best to double-check with local law enforcement. 

Do I Have to Wear a Helmet on a Moped in Pennsylvania?

It is not mandatory to wear a helmet on a moped in Pennsylvania. However, it is recommended that you do so for your safety. Although mopeds travel at lower speeds, an accident without a helmet can still be devastating. Operators are at an increased risk of suffering a severe or fatal injury due to their lack of protection. Additionally, if you are involved in a collision without a helmet, it may impact your claim for compensation. When another party is at fault, their insurance company can blame the severity or cause of your injuries on your negligence for failing to wear a helmet. Pennsylvania courts follow the rule of modified comparative negligence, which reduces each party’s compensation based on their percentage of fault. For example, if you are awarded $100,000 but found 40% at fault, you will only receive 60% of your award or $20,000. If you are found 51% or more to blame, you cannot recover any compensation. As a result, it can be extremely challenging to recover full and fair compensation for a life-changing injury if you were not wearing a helmet.

Tips for Staying Safe on a Moped

Here are some safety tips for operating a moped in Pennsylvania.

  • Wear safety gear. In addition to a helmet, gloves and a thick jacket can possibly protect you from a serious injury in an accident. 
  • Make sure to be seen. Wearing brightly colored or reflective clothing and keeping your headlights on can help other drivers see you. 
  • Be heard. If you are not sure if a driver sees you, beep the horn to make sure they know you are there. 
  • Stay in control. Remain alert, follow traffic laws, obey the speed limit, and adjust for inclement weather.