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Operating Low Speed Vehicles on California Streets


Low speed vehicles are electric powered and similar to large golf carts. According to Motor Vehicle Code 21251, drivers of these vehicles have the same rights and responsibilities on California streets as cars and other larger motorized vehicles. These electric cars are designated as “low-speed vehicles” because they are designed to travel at less than 25 miles per hour.

Many cities push the use of these vehicles for grocery shopping, recreation and everyday travel. They are economically fuel efficient and quieter than regular cars, which makes them environmentally friendly and appealing. However, drivers should be aware that these vehicles were originally designed for driving within the safety of closed communities. They do not have the same safety equipment as larger and faster vehicle that are sharing public roads. When operating electric cars on city streets, diligence and common sense must be used to keep yourself and your passengers safe.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has established some safety standards for low-speed vehicles which include: headlights, taillights, stoplights, turn signals, reflectors, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, windshields, safety belts, and vehicle identification numbers. They also must be able to travel at least 20 but no more than 25 mph.

Low-speed vehicles are not required to have safety features such as airbags and roll bars. Because of this, crashes involving these vehicles often cause serious injuries to occupants. In a crash involving a larger truck or a vehicle traveling at a high rate of speed, the passengers in a low-speed vehicle would have a significant possibility of sustaining serious or life-threatening injuries. For this reason, the State of California limits travel of low-speed vehicles to roadways where the designated speed limit is 35 mph or less.

These electric-vehicles are becoming increasingly popular, and crashes between cars and low-speed vehicles are on the rise. According to a 2008 Energy Department estimate, there are approximately 45,000 of these vehicles on the roads. Many of these vehicles were purchased using the $2500 tax credit given under the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009. California also offers additional tax incentive including rebates of up to $1350 on certain eco-friendly models. With incentives like these, you can expect to see more of these vehicles on the roads in the future.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an electric car, you have rights under the law. A good personal injury lawyer, such as those at Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys may be able to help you with your claims. If you wait to file, you may run out of time. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible. In many cases, they can handle your case while you concentrate on healing from your injuries.

At Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys we want to keep everyone safe on the roads. Learn more about traffic laws for low-speed and high-speed vehicles at California Motor Vehicle Code.

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