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Street Legal Golf Carts and Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

Shrinivas Kanade
Neighborhood electric vehicles and street legal golf carts are environment-friendly vehicles. They are fast gaining public acceptance because of their easy operation. Read on to know about the laws concerning these vehicles.
Golf carts are powered by electricity which is stored in the on-board batteries. More than 40 states have laws relating to all available vehicles that are termed as street legal. These laws apply specifically to slow moving electric vehicles.

Laws for Permissible Golf Carts

In case of golf carts, laws defining them and regulating their use, are as following:
  • They must not be capable of moving at a speed which exceeds 35 miles per hour.
  • Maximum seating capacity is of 4 persons for each cart.
  • Each vehicle must be provided with safety features such as head lights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn lights.
  • They must also be provided with reflectors on the sides, stretching from the front to the rear end of the vehicles.
  • It is mandatory for the carts to have internal and exterior mirrors. Exterior mirrors are required to be mounted on the driver and passenger side.
  • A windshield, parking breaks, and vehicle identification number is a necessity for each of these vehicles, although windshield wipers are not mandatory.
  • Every cart must be provided with three-point seat belts.
  • Each vehicle must have a manufacturer's Certificate of Origin, declaring it to be a low-speed vehicle.
  • A golf cart does not require insurance, but an electric golf cart needs to be insured.
  • Each vehicle must carry a label warning that it should not be driven at a speed higher than 35 miles per hour.

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEV)

A neighborhood electric vehicle is a classification which has the approval of the United States Department of Transportation. The classification is for limited-speed vehicles that operate on electricity stored in on-board batteries.
They can be defined as 'any four wheel vehicle that weighs less than 1400 kilograms with a topmost speed of 25 miles per hour (40 km/h).'
NEVs are especially designed and built to be street legal. A fully charged NEV has a driving range of 30 miles (48 km). It can be plugged into an electric source (110V standard outlet), for recharging the batteries.
It usually takes 6 to 8 hours for the batteries to charge completely. However, some of these vehicles can also be plugged into a 220V electric outlet, which requires only 4 to 5 hours to charge.
All neighborhood vehicles powered by electricity, including permissible golf carts, cannot be operated on every street. Following certain restrictions, they can operate on public roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour.
These vehicles are racing ahead to take charge of short-distance travel, such as traveling to the mall for shopping, visiting a friend in the neighborhood, or picking children from the bus stop or school. They are economically affordable, as they consume electricity worth 1 to 3 cents per mile.
Gas-powered vehicles are costly to operate over short distances. NEVs are suitable to operate over short hauls, and also succeed in saving money. That is what is the secret of their popularity.