Stories from the NFCCA Newsletter, the “Northwood News”

Northwood News ♦ October 2012

New Traffic Laws Effective 1 October Cover Dark Stop Lights; Insurance, Helmets for Moped Riders

By Jacquie Bokow

A new law goes into effect this month regarding actions drivers must take when approaching intersections with nonfunctioning traffic signals.  Beginning 1 October 2012, a driver approaching a “nonfunctioning” (meaning dark) traffic control signal from any direction at an intersection must stop (1) at a clearly marked stop line, (2) before entering any crosswalk, or (3) before entering the intersection.  After stopping, the driver must yield to any vehicle or pedestrian in the intersection and remain stopped until it is safe to enter and continue through the intersection.

“You have probably heard for long time that, if an intersection is dark, you have to treat it as a four-way stop,” wrote Officer Douglas Miller (who lives in our neighborhood) on the listserv.  “Well, officially, it’s never been a law.  It’s been common sense and we thought people would act courteously in regards to it.”

Not stopping at a dark traffic light will carry a fine of $90 and two points if the offense does not contribute to an accident.  If the violation contributes to a crash, the fine is $130 and three points.

Most intersection “traffic control signals” — i.e., red lights or stop lights — are powered by electricity that can be interrupted because of storms, traffic crashes, or other incidents.  “Just because a traffic control signal is not functioning at an intersection does not mean drivers are relieved of their duty to exercise care and caution,” stated Maryland State Police in a press release.  “The new law makes clear the procedures each driver must now follow.”

Violations of the new law carry a fine of $90 and two points if the offense does not contribute to an accident.  If the violation contributes to a crash, the fine is $130 and three points.

Moped Drivers Face New Laws

Other laws affect drivers of mopeds/motor scooters.  As of 1 Octover, all motor scooters and mopeds must be titled and insured, and all drivers and passengers must wear a helmet and eye protection.  These new requirements are in addition to the existing law that requires all motor scooter and moped operators to possess a valid driver’s license or a moped operator’s permit.

All drivers and passengers of motor scooters and mopeds will be required to wear motorcycle helmets that meet safety standards set by the United States Department of Transportation.  Drivers and passengers must also wear eye protection, unless the vehicle is equipped with a windscreen.

Motor scooter and moped owners will be required to insure their vehicles.  They must obtain at least the minimum vehicle liability insurance and must carry proof of the insurance with them whenever they are operating the scooter or moped.

Motor scooters and mopeds will be required to be titled by the Motor Vehicle Administration.  Owners will be able to obtain titling information through the MVA website at beginning 1 October.  When the title is obtained, the vehicle owner will be provided with a decal that must be displayed on the rear of the vehicle.

Maryland law defines a motor scooter as a nonpedal vehicle that has a seat for the operator; has two wheels, of which one is ten or more inches in diameter; has a step-through chassis; has a motor with a rating of 2.7 brake horsepower or less, or a 50 cc engine or less; and is equipped with an automatic transmission.  A moped is defined as a bicycle that is designed to be operated by human power with the assistance of a motor; is equipped with pedals that can drive the rear wheel(s); has two or three wheels, one of which is more than 14 inches in diameter; has a motor with a rating of 1.5 brake horsepower or less and a 50 cc engine or less.

For further information, contact Maryland State Police in Pikesville, 410.486.3101 or 1.800.525.5555.   ■

   © 2012 NFCCA  [Source:]