With the growing public interest in finding an energy-efficient alternative for today's low speed vehicle, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) carefully studied the use of electric vehicles for numerous personal and work-related applications. The private use of golf carts in golf course communities led to a demand for street legal golf carts, electric utility vehicles, low speed vehicles (LSVs), electric buses, neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs), low-speed parking shuttles and electric emergency response vehicles.
The sudden rise of public interest forced the Department of Transportation to determine how these low-cost, energy saving vehicles should be categorized for use on public roadways. State governments from Florida to California followed suit and began to authorize the use of electric utility vehicles in a variety of community settings with lower posted speed limits. It was obvious from the beginning that the state governments could not agree on how electric utility vehicles and street legal golf carts should be utilized.
The main regulatory issues for local municipal, county and state legislations was the determination of the vehicle's gross weight limits and limits for maximum speed. The disagreement over such issues forced the NHTSA to establish a federal standard that would ensure that any low-speed vehicle powered by an electric motor would be safely operated on public streets, roads and highways. Thus, standard safety features like seat belts, headlights, brake lights, turn signals, rearview mirrors and power-to-weight ratios were determined at the federal level for the new classification of low speed electric vehicles.
How to Contact the NHTSA:
FEDERAL MOTOR VEHICLE SAFETY STANDARDS AND REGULATIONS
U.S. DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION
OFFICE OF VEHICLE SAFETY COMPLIANCE
400 7TH STREET, SW
MAIL CODE: NSA-30
WASHINGTON, DC 20590