The new low-speed vehicles (LSV) or neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) are regulated under Florida law entirely different then golf carts. They are allowed to go a maximum of 25 mph. They may be used on public roadways, if the speed limit is 35 mph or less. Since they can be driven on the road, they must be registered, insured and the driver must have a valid driver’s license. This means they have specific insurance covering their use. They must also be equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, reflectors, parking brakes, rear view mirror, windshields, seat belts and they must have a vehicle identification number (VIN).
Although they have some of the safety features of a car, they typically have no fixed door, no bumpers, and do not have the crash worthiness of a car. They weigh about 1200 pounds, while the average car weighs at least 4000 pounds. It is yet to be seen in how they will fare when they’re involved in collisions with cars, which will in evidently begin to occur. I’m not aware of any cases which have considered their classification as a dangerous instrumentality, but they would appear to be as equally dangerous in their operation as a golf cart.
These low-speed vehicles are becoming quite popular. The most popular models seem to cost between $8000 and $20,000. They typically can go between 30 and 40 miles on charge and are much cheaper to operate than a car. Drivers describe them as being extremely fun to use. Many of them consider them their errand car. It’s reported that as many as 100,000 of them are being used in the Untied States. Police departments are beginning to use them because of their range, cost, and their ability to go off the paved road when necessary.
It is yet to be seen how the operators and passengers of these vehicles fare when involved in a collision. The number of serious injuries people suffer in collisions may be a factor in their future popularity.