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Friday, May 17 2013 9:02 PM EDT2013-05-18 01:02:54 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 8:56 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:56:00 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 8:39 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:39:56 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 8:17 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:17:28 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 8:03 PM EDT2013-05-18 00:03:09 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 6:42 PM EDT2013-05-17 22:42:38 GMT
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Friday, May 17 2013 6:21 PM EDT2013-05-17 22:21:11 GMT
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LAS VEGAS -- Driving around Las Vegas, motorists are increasingly encountering one of the thousands of mopeds buzzing around the valley.
Those mopeds, quite often, are holding up traffic.
No one knows exactly how many mopeds are out there, because the Nevada Department of Motor Vehicles has no oversight of them. Police officers, who try to enforce the rules, find that many of the riders don't even have a driver's license.
That aside, there are many responsible riders who follow the law, but drivers need to be aware what could happen if they are involved in a crash with a scooter.
Bob Barkhuff has been selling mopeds longer than some of his customers have been alive.
"We've been in business 20 years, been at this location 17 years," he said.
When the recession hit, sales picked up. Mopeds started flying out of his showroom.
"It exploded so bad that the scooter industry ran out of scooters," he said.
Manufacturers have been scrambling to keep up ever since.
Mopeds are popular because they're cheap, get 100 miles per gallon, don't need to be registered, don't have to carry insurance and the rider doesn't have to wear a helmet.
Greg Morgan rides his moped – helmetless – 20 miles to work.
"If you get hit on one of these things, it's not going to matter if you have a helmet or not anyway," he said.
Since the law requires mopeds go no faster than 30 mph, occasionally he holds up traffic, driving the people behind him crazy.
"They'll beep the horn," Morgan said. "'Get out of the way,' ‘What are you doing on the road?' That kind of stuff."
And mopeds are holding up traffic all over town, even on major thoroughfares, such as Desert Inn Road, where the speed limit is 45 mph.
According to Nevada law, moped riders should stay to the right and let traffic go by, but according to rider Elizabeth Sundling, that's often dangerous.
"When I first started out riding, I would try to get to the right so I could let drivers around me, only to learn that was a huge mistake," she said. "'Cause the drivers will just stomp all over you. It's actually better to ride a little bit to the left in the lane so that they stay out of your lane."
Sundling, who has been riding for six months, said she has had many close calls. But with the money she's saving -- about $3,000 a year -- she's become a soccer mom on a scooter.
"You see people tailgating these guys, and if this guy falls, you're going to run right over the top of him," she said.
When mopeds go down, it's not only ugly, but expensive. If another motorist is involved, they're the ones who usually have to foot the bill.
According to police, the number of wrecks involving mopeds is unknown, because there's no specific category for mopeds.
They will only say that mopeds, because they are often difficult to see and traveling at different speeds, are part of the overall problem on Las Vegas roads.
For the third session in a row, police are working with lawmakers to get tighter restrictions on mopeds and want to require bikes 49cc and under to be registered and insured.
In the meantime, give them space. One moped dealer said he's had buyers crash in the parking lot because many riders have no experience.