Lawmakers pass laws to increase road safety for scooters and buses

New laws will increase inspection requirements for private bus companies.
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Indiana lawmakers have passed laws designed to keep tabs on scooters and buses on the road.

For three years, the state has been grappling with unlicensed and uninsured drivers behind the wheel of scooters or what some commonly refer to as "mopeds." Now, there's a new price to get on the road and a deadly church bus accident will step up inspection requirements for private companies.

Chris Wallace doesn't mind getting his hands dirty. He's a certified mechanic and he keeps the fleet rolling at Cavallo Bus Lines.

"A lot of the safety issues, customers don't see. We're kind of behind the scenes as far as keeping them safe," he said, working in the maintenance shop. "Safety is the number one concern when it comes to putting 56 people on a motor coach."

Here, buses are pulled in for service every 7,500 miles. Twice a year, there's a bumper-to-bumper inspection.

"We go through everything - brakes, suspension, tires, AC, heating - anything you can think of a motor coach might have," explained Wallace.

All buses are supposed to be inspected once each year, but as 13 Investigates reported in July following the Colonial Hills bus crash, religious groups don't have to provide proof to anyone.

A new Indiana law will change that. The law requires all private bus operators to turn over their inspection reports to the Indiana State Police.

Colonial Hills Baptist Church member Jeff Lefew has some concerns. He tells 13 Investigates, "The new law would have had no impact on our situation. It was never proven the bus had anything wrong. I hope lawmakers aren't overly opportunistic to go after ministries trying to do good and create a financial burden for smaller ministries."

"A lot of the churches that run their own private coaches find that it's cheaper to go through a company like us, rather than maintain, because it is very expensive to maintain a motor coach," added Wallace.

From buses to low powered 49cc scooters commonly called "mopeds."

"I've been riding bikes since about '92," said Mike Boyd outside of Speed City Scooters on West 16th Street.

After three consecutive years of trying to get a handle on these "motor-driven vehicles," lawmakers finally agreed to require plates and registration. It means Boyd and others will pay $25 to put a 49cc scooter on the street.

"Okay, well if that is the case, no problem. I will be able to take care of that," said Boyd.

Despite complaints from police departments about suspended drivers getting back on the road on scooters or mopeds, lawmakers refused to require a drivers license or insurance.

"Letting the scooters go without insurance is a, you know, it's a slippery slope," said Mike Tockey, a local scooter enthusiast.

He says registration is a small step, but wants scooter drivers saddled with more responsibility.

Both bills are on their way to the governor's desk for signing.

Lefew says the Colonial Hills congregation continues to heal. Investigators ruled that accident was the result of driver error.

As for scooter registrations, the BMV has previously said registering scooters would bring in about $78,000 a year in state revenue.