Golf Car, Personal Transportation Vehicle And Slow Moving Vehicle Ordinances in 2014

This is a survey and discussion undertaken after reviewing 35 local municipal and county ordinances authorizing the use of golf cars and personal transportation vehicles[1] on public streets adopted within the last 6 months of 2014. This survey supplements the 2013 Compendium on State Laws Respecting Golf Cars and Personal Transportation Vehicles (“PTVs”) use on Public Roads.[2]

As expected, the results are both uniform in certain respects and differing in others. Sixteen states[3] are represented in the survey, a significant percentage of them in Minnesota, Indiana and Illinois. Approximately seven percent (7%) of the 5000 local governments in the U.S. permit golf cars or PTVs on their streets.[4] These vehicles are to be distinguished from Low Speed Vehicles (“LSVs”) which are permitted in most all of the states.

Uniform requirements include permitting, proof of insurance, operation only between sunrise to sunset (unless equipped with specified lighting), possession of driver’s license and minimum age, (typically, 16).

Differences appear respecting whether: slow moving vehicle signage is necessary (usually a state requirement); operation prohibited in inclement weather or when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog, or other conditions; operation permitted on streets with speed limit exceeding 25 mph[5]; operation limited to persons who are disabled[6]; vehicle inspection by law enforcement personnel; other small vehicles, e.g., In some cases, ATVs and light utility vehicles[7] are also allowed the use of local public streets; operation limited to designated streets; and types of required equipment or accessories, e.g., seat belts and rear view mirrors.

Little or no forensic studies are readily available to demonstrate safe operation of golf cars, PTVs and LSVs in environments where speed limits exceed 25 mph. The maximum speed of a golf car is 15 mph[8], for a Personal Transportation Vehicle is less than 20 mph[9] and of an LSV is less than 25 mph.[10] it is thought allowing the use of golf cars, PTVs and LSVs is not suitable as a traffic control matter where speed limits exceed 25 mph.[11] That is, operators of automobiles and trucks may become impatient when stuck behind a slow moving vehicle in a zone allowing speeds of more than 25 mph and attempt to pass it when passing is unsafe.[12] Moreover, the case for safety may rest on the concern about impact or collision involving the slow moving vehicle with a larger higher speed vehicle. Notwithstanding, no differential analysis, if any, between a collision at 35 mph and 25 mph involving a low speed vehicle, PTV or street legal golf car and a higher speed vehicle is known.[13] However, by analogy, it is said the death rate more than doubles for pedestrians when speed increases from 25 to 35 m.p.h.[14

Slow Moving Vehicle Signs. Slow moving vehicle signage is a creature of state law[15] there being no federal requirement for their imposition. Their origin dates back over 50 years as a result of a study involving slow speed farm vehicles.[16] The study showed a large percentage of vehicle accidents involving slow speed farm vehicles were rear end collisions. There is little uniformity respecting the nature and size of the signage required.[17]

The presumed premise for state laws requiring slow moving vehicle signs on PTVs is a vehicle traveling at a maximum speed of 25 miles per hour is a collision hazard on roadways. Faster cars can come up behind them causing rear-end crashes. Accidents can be head-on if a faster vehicle tries to pass the slower one quickly. To keep the roadways safe, laws have been created regarding the proper use of slow moving vehicle emblems. These emblems act as a warning so drivers have enough time to slow down before reaching, or hitting, the slow-moving vehicle.[18]

The only existing safety standard for operation of PTVs or street legal golf cars on public ways is ANSI/ILTVA Z 135-2012 Safety and Performance Specifications for Personal Transportation Vehicles. Z 135 does not specify slow moving vehicle signs. The absence of a recommendation respecting slow moving vehicle signs is not indicative of their utility or non-utility. Rather, the absence is due, in part, to the lack of any uniform application, size or other specifications requirements among the states which require them. It is also because ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 provides for optional stop lamps and requires tail lamps on PTVs.[19]

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. (“MUTCD”), recites under Section 6G Type Of Temporary Traffic Control Zone Activities when work is ongoing outside of the shoulder “If the equipment travels on the roadway, the equipment should be equipped with appropriate flags, high-intensity rotating, flashing, oscillating, or strobe lights, and/or a SLOW MOVING VEHICLE sign.” However, MUTCD does not prescribe the elements of a slow moving vehicle sign. Nor does MUTCD by scope apply to vehicle equipment or accessories.

The only known extant standard for a slow moving vehicle sign is ANSI/ASABE S276.7 W/Corr. 1 September  2010.The Standard is published by the American Society of Agricultural and Biological Engineers, St. Joseph, Michigan.[20] The Standard applies to implements of husbandry/agricultural equipment and other slow moving machines, either self-propelled or towed, are often moved between operational sites that are not contiguous. Transport may involve moving on public roads (infrastructure) at ground speeds less than 40 km/h (25 mile/h). This standard provides a means of identifying such slow moving equipment to communicate to third parties traveling on such public roads as to the relative speed of such equipment to other vehicles utilizing the public roads.[21]

The purpose and scope of ANSI/ASABE S276.7 include the following: The Standard establishes specifications that define a unique identification emblem, the Slow Moving Vehicle Emblem (SMV Emblem), to be used only for slow moving machines (vehicles), when operated or traveling on public roads. The requirements and applications of the standard are defined in the Standard. The purpose is to communicate to third parties the slower speed capabilities of the slow moving vehicle to other vehicle(s) using public roads. The primary application of this SMV emblem will be with implements of husbandry but may be used with other machines or vehicles that travel at speeds less than 40 km/h (25 mile/h). The Standard establishes emblem dimensional specifications, performance requirements, related test procedures, mounting requirements and applications of the emblem.[22] The Standard recites the SMV emblem shall complement but not replace warning devices such as tail lamps, reflectors, or flashing lights.[23

The SMV emblem is widely used on vehicles traveling slower than 25 mph. Studies have shown that two out of three highway crashes involving slow-moving vehicles are rear-end collisions. Of these rear-end collisions; nine out of ten occur during day time. During the day time, the bright, fluorescent orange triangle of the SMV emblem gets the attention of the motorists from more than 1,000 feet away. This provides the motorists ample time to slow down before it is too late. At night, the reflective border of the SMV emblem glows brightly with bright headlights. The distinctive, retro-reflective red triangle surrounding the fluorescent orange center immediately identifies a slow-moving vehicle.[24]

ILTVA presently neither approves nor disapproves the use of SMV emblems whether in conformity with S276.7 or otherwise. However, we surmise if other warning devices, e.g., tail lights, are present and illuminated on a street legal golf cart, Personal Transportation Vehicle or LSV, are sufficiently conspicuous to notify following higher speed vehicles of the presence in front of them of a SMV, then there is a question of their necessity or additional benefit.[25] Notwithstanding, a now cancelled SAE J943 Slow-Moving Vehicle Identification Emblem (1966) recites: This unique identification emblem shall be used only on machines which are designed for and travel at rates of speed less than 40 km/h (25 mph). J943 recites: The identification emblem shall supplement but not replace warning devices such as tail lamp regulators or flashing lights and shall not be used to identify stationary objects or stopped vehicles and/or machines. However, as noted, J943 was cancelled in 2000.

Finally, as more and more automobile and truck manufacturers are furnishing electronic warning devices for their vehicles which alert the driver to obstacles both behind and fronting their vehicle, the old fashioned SMVS becomes likely obsolete, if indeed they are practical for lower speed vehicles other than large agricultural vehicles. It has been noted, for example, forward collision warning/mitigation could prevent 37 percent of large truck front-to-rear crashes. This technology uses cameras, radar, or sensors to monitor a truck’s path and alert the driver of a potential collision with a vehicle or object. Some systems require drivers to react to warnings, while others may automatically brake or steer a truck to reduce crash severity or avoid a crash altogether.[26]

Vehicle inspection. There is a noticeable lack of criteria in local legislation respecting just what is to be inspected, the frequency and by whom. Fleet golf car operators have an advantage as they generally have available to them the vehicle manufacturer’s experts who will perform vehicle inspection as part of lease or purchase contracts. However, individual end users and local law enforcement personnel do not generally have immediate access to the golf car and Personal Transportation Vehicle manufacturer’s experts and are left to their own devices. While manufacturer owners’ manuals are helpful and should be consulted, many end users purchase their PTVs from dealers who are not OEMs and who have reconditioned a golf cart to presumably become street legal by adding features required of PTVs to make them compliant with local code and state statutes. Individual end users should insist the manufacturer’s owner’s manual be furnished with the vehicle purchased from a third party vendor. However, if the vehicle was originally manufactured by the OEM as a golf car and is being purchased from the third party vendor as a presumptive PTV or even LSV, little guidance is available for what inspection is called for.

The problem becomes evident when the local ordinance is vague respecting what is specifically to be inspected and what standards or requirements are to be met in the inspection.

Performance inspections typically set forth in OEM owners’ manuals include checking for proper performance of controls and indicators, e.g., forward and reverse switch, brake, park brake, reverse buzzer and steering. Electric golf cars should also be inspected for the accelerator, walk away braking, motor braking, pedal up and pedal down braking as applicable. Gasoline vehicles should also be inspected for accelerator and governor. Exactly what is deemed a satisfactory inspection is detailed in the OEM manuals.

But given the myriad varieties and brands of golf car and PTV vehicles, a local municipal law enforcement inspector will be hard pressed to know what should be inspected other than the basic items. Perhaps the inspection will be limited to ensuring satisfactory operation of the equipment required in the local ordinance or statute, if any. However, if neither the local ordinance nor state law prescribe the required equipment, then inspection may be haphazard or even futile.[27]

Sunrise to sunset limitations. Limitations based on daylight obviously are based upon perceived reduced visibility of golf cars and PTVs by other vehicles and pedestrians at night. Notwithstanding, if the PTV complies with the ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 standard respecting lighting and reflector equipment, it is submitted there is little justification for limiting its use to daylight hours. However, as a golf car is normally not equipped with tail lamps, stop lamps, and side reflectors, limiting their operation to daylight hours is a useful safety rule.

Types of required equipment. Perhaps the single most difference in how localities address the use of golf cars and PTVs is in the equipment or accessories required. LSVs by definition list the various equipment and accessories required.[28] Some localities require seat belts, reflectors and other equipment for golf cars and PTVs. Indeed, ANSI/ILTVA Z 135, the safety performance specifications for PTVs, prescribe safety warning labels, name plates, reverse warning device, headlamp, reflex reflectors, tail lamps, horn and rear view mirror. Unfortunately, many localities in adopting golf car and PTV ordinances appear unaware of the safety equipment specified in ANSI/ILTVA Z 135.

Because golf cars are not designed for road use, ANSI/ILTVA Z 130.1 does not prescribe equipment for roadway use. Most unfortunately, when users or retrofitters undertake the conversion of golf cars for roadway use, they do not consult ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 to determine what changes are required for their safe use on roadways. Modifications made to PTVs that are not approved by the original equipment manufacturer may adversely affect the safe operation and performance of the vehicle.

If a Personal Transportation Vehicle has been modified by a party other than the original equipment manufacturer, the controlling party[29] shall (i) arrange for the modification to be designed, tested and implemented by an engineer expert in PTVs and their safety; (ii) maintain a permanent record of the design test(s) and implementation of the modification; (iii) make appropriate changes to the capacity, plate(s), decals, and operation and maintenance manuals; and (iv) affix a permanent and readily visible label on the PTV car stating the PTV has been modified with the date of the modification and the name of the organization that accomplished the modification. The controlling party shall not perform, or allow to be performed, any modification or addition to the vehicle that affects capacity or safe operation, or make any change not in accordance with the original equipment manufacturers operations and service manuals, without the original equipment manufacturers prior written authorization.[30]

Thus for example, if a golf car has been modified to increase its speed above 15 mph and to conform to safety feature standards prescribed by local or state government, then the person responsible for the modifications also should be attentive to the ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 specifications. Whether or not modifications have been authorized by the original equipment manufacturer, if modifications are made, the controlling party making the modifications becomes the original equipment manufacturer of the modified vehicle and has the responsibility to ensure that capacity, operation, warning, maintenance instruction plates, tags, and/or decals are changed accordingly.[31]

The reader may question why pay attention to voluntary safety standards such as ANSI/ILTVA Z 135. The answer is not merely because it enhances the safe operation of the vehicle but also serves to prevent injury or even death of its occupants. Coincidentally, conformity to safety specifications and standards lessens the risk of liability to the controlling party when accidents occur.

Common law courts have a long tradition of borrowing legislative and regulatory standards to define standards of care under the tort system. Treating such standards as setting minimum levels of care and safety under tort law, the courts uniformly have ruled that violations of standards constitute negligence per se, while compliance is merely evidence of negligence.[32]

Unlike respecting LSVs, there are no present federal regulations respecting golf car or Personal Transportation Vehicle equipment or accessories required for use of state or local roads. Although the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) enforces compliance with mandatory federal safety standards, it is also required by law to rely on voluntary safety standards when it determines that the standard adequately addresses the product hazard and is likely to have substantial compliance.[33] Assuming CPSC finds ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 adequately addresses the product hazard and is likely to have substantial compliance, a controlling party may be more likely protected than not if the party follows the equipment and accessory specifications in ANSI/ILTVA Z 135. However, the likelihood of substantial compliance is diminished if the persons selling a PTV do not consult or ignore the ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 specifications.

Because voluntary standards do not have the force of law, CPSC cannot compel compliance with them. However, noncompliance with a voluntary standard can inform a determination of a substantial product hazard by the CPSC that in turn can lead to CPSC enforcement actions.[34] Manufacturers (includes controlling parties who modify golf cars or PTVs) who fail to comply with voluntary standards can face consequences when CPSC has determined that noncompliance poses a significant risk of injury or death to consumers. CPSC can take corrective action against the manufacturer, including recalls, or take longer term action to ban the hazardous product.[35]

Similarly, compliance with voluntary safety standards and governmental regulations are not an absolute defense to a product liability action although it is pretty good evidence that the product was reasonably safe.[36]

NHTSA Concerns. The mission of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, (“NHTSA”), is to save lives, prevent injuries, and reduce economic costs due to road traffic crashes through education, research, safety standards and enforcement activity. NHTSA is responsible for establishing and enforcing Federal motor vehicle safety standards (FMVSS), including FMVSS No. 500, which applies to LSVs.[37] In DOT’s 2012 report to Congress it estimated there are approximately 45,000 NEVs (electric powered LSVs) in use in the United States. NHTSA does not presently recognize golf cars or PTVs as motor vehicles for purposes of regulation. However, it is most likely many more golf cars and PTVs are traversing public streets than NEVs at the present time. This is primarily because of the significantly lower prices for golf cars and PTVs than apply to NEVs.

NHTSA observes in its 2012 report: The two primary and unique aspects of NEV s that support separate treatment under its federal motor vehicle safety standards (“FMVSSs”) are the fact that they cannot achieve speeds in excess of 25 mph (40 kph) and they operate primarily in carefully controlled environments with low posted speed limits (i.e., 25 miles per hour or less) rather than in mixed traffic encountered on public streets, roads, and highways or in higher speed traffic. NHTSA reiterates even under these circumstances, should data or anecdotal information arise that suggests that there is a safety issue relating to the operation of NEVs, NHTSA would take steps to issue additional requirements to improve the safety of these vehicles. This would include possibly making LSV s subject to the same FMVSSs that apply to conventional passenger motor vehicles.[38]

Traditionally, golf carts have been defined as having a maximum speed of 15 mph (24 kph) and as being used primarily on golf courses. If they meet these two criteria, they are not regulated by NHTSA.[39] Currently, PTVs are not regulated by NHTSA as they do not meet the minimum 20 mph threshold and maximum 25 mph defining an LSV. However, if PTVs, street legal golf cars and LSVs are operated in environments where the speed limit exceeds 25 mph there is a substantial risk NHTSA may propose rule making to require them to comply with the full panoply of FMVSSs applicable to automobiles. For this reason along with the increased safety concerns for occupiers of vehicles operating on roads where the speed limit exceeds 25 mph, local governments would be wise to prohibit their use on roads where the speed limit exceeds 25 mph unless a reserved lane is provided for the LSVs and PTVs.

By: Fred L. Somers, Jr.

ILTVA General Counsel

[1] A self-propelled vehicle with a minimum of 4 wheels, capable of a maximum level ground speed of less than 32 kph (20 mph), maximum rated pay load capacity of 545 kg (1200 lb), maximum gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 1,135 kg (2,500 lb) and capable of transporting not more than four persons,3 operating on designated roadways or property where permitted by law, or the applicable regulatory authority. ANSI/ILTVA Z135-2012 ¶ 3.24.

[2] See

[3] MN, IL, IN, KY, LA, GA, CN, OH, SC, FL, WA, IA, ID, KS, NC and TX.

[4] See list of known local governments with ordinances permitting the use of golf cars and PTVs on their streets.

[5] Some localities allow operation on streets with speed limits of up to 35 mph; one jurisdiction allows operation on streets with speed limits of up to 30 mph. ILTVA’s Model Local Ordinance provides operation of golf cars or PTVs only in areas in which the posted speed for the road surface on which the vehicles operate does not exceed 25 mph. See for available free copy.


Tuesday, November 11, 2014. DISABLED INDIVIDUAL or DISABLED PERSON. A person who:

(a) Because of disability cannot walk without significant risk of falling; (b) Because of disability cannot walk 200 feet without stopping to rest; (c)Because of disability cannot walk without the aid of another person, a walker, a cane, crutches, braces, a prosthetic device, or a wheelchair; (d) Is restricted by a respiratory disease to such an extent that the person’s forced (respiratory) expiratory volume for 1 second, when measured by spirometry, is less than 1 meter;(e) Has an arterial oxygen tension (PA02) of less than 60 mm/hg on room air at rest; (f) Uses portable oxygen; or (g) Has a cardiac condition to the extent that the person’s functional limitations are classified in severity as Class III or Class IV according to the standards set by the American Heart Association.

We find it ironic some municipalities emphasize tolerance and traffic lanes for bicycles while ignoring an the fastest growing segment of the population, i.e., senior citizens. Many senior citizens are not capable of sustained bicycle operation but find using a golf car or PTV a useful means of short run transportation. PTVs are superior to bicycles and motorized wheel chairs respecting ease of visibility to other traffic.


[7] See SAE J2258

[8] See ANSI/ILTVA Z 130.1-2012 ¶ Available download free at

[9] See ANSI/ILTVA Z135-2012 ¶ Available download free at

[10] See

[11] Cf. DOT Report to Congress Operation of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) on Roadways with a Maximum Speed Limit of 40 mph (64 kph):Fuel Consumption Savings and Safety Ramifications(2012) p. 43   “. . . as NEV use on roads with speed limits above 25 mph (40kph) increases, the number of crashes involving injuries or deaths is likely to increase.”Also see Transport Canada “Low Speed Vehicle Crash Tests” (2014) “ . . . the Low Speed Vehicle class was created for controlled low-speed environments, where the risk of colliding with larger, faster motor vehicles is much lower.”

[12] An increased risk of crash involvement is a result of potential conflicts from faster traffic catching up with and passing slower vehicles. See Synthesis of Safety Research Related to Speed and Speed Management, Publication Number: FHWA-RD-98-154 Date: July 1998 (DOT Federal Highway Administration

[13] However, one article points out the following:” The exact relation between speed and crashes depends on many factors. However, in a general sense the relation is very clear: if on a road the driven speeds become higher, the crash rate will also increase. The crash rate is also higher for an individual vehicle that drives at higher speed than the other traffic on that road. As speeds get higher, crashes also result in more serious injury, for the driver who caused the crash as well as for the crash opponent. The injury severity of the vehicle occupants in a crash, for example, is not only determined by the collision speed, but also by the mass difference between the vehicles and by the vulnerability of the vehicles/road users who are involved. In a crash between a light vehicle and a heavier one, the occupants of the lighter vehicle generally are considerably worse off than the occupants of the heavier vehicle. Even more so this is the case for pedestrians, cyclists and moped riders in crashes with (much) heavier motor vehicles.” SWOV Fact sheet The relation between speed and crashes: Institute for Road Safety Research.,d.cWc

[14] In Crashes, Low Driving Speed Can Cause Serious Injury and Death to Pedestrians quoting Peter Kissinger, president and chief executive of the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety, a nonprofit research and educational organization that conducted the study “Impact Speed and a Pedestrian’s Risk of Severe Injury or Death,”.

[15] E.g., Illinois, Texas, Ohio, N..Y., Minnesota, Kansas, Oregon, Colorado, Wisconsin.

[16] See

[17] Id.

[18] See

[19] 9.5.4 Stop lamps

If so equipped, stop lamp(s) should be mounted on the rear of the vehicle. If two (2) stop lamps are

used, they shall be disposed symmetrically about the centerline of the vehicle. They should be

mounted no less than 381 mm (15 in) nor more than 1524 mm (60 in) from the ground. The stop

lamps shall be illuminated by activation of the vehicle service brake. A stop lamp may be combined

optically with the tail lamp, and it should comply with SAE J586.

9.5.5 Tail lamps

Two tail lamps shall be mounted on the vehicle facing to the rear and as far from the longitudinal

centerline of the vehicle as practicable. They should be mounted no less than 381 mm (15 in) or

more than 1524 mm (60 in) from the ground. A tail lamp may be combined optically with the turn

signal lamp and, if so combined, should comply with SAE J586 [turn signal lamps and J588 [stop lamps].

[20] See

[21] Id.

[22] The specifications et al are available by purchasing a copy of the Standard from ASAE’s website or ANSI’s website store portal –



[24] “Lighting and Marking Recommendations for Animal-Drawn Carriages, Buggies and Wagons”

[25] See ANSI/ILTVA Z 135-2012 ¶ 9.5.5 Tail lamps; SAE J2358; SAE J2258; and

[26] Insurance Institute Crash Tests, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Vol. 45 No. 5 May 20, 2010.

[27] University of Missouri guidelines offer the following: “All golf cart vehicles should be maintained as recommended by the manufacturer’s service schedule. A vehicle inspection should be conducted each day of use. A checklist should be developed for each golf cart vehicle to include items such as: tire pressure, rust damage, fluid leaks, loose parts, and other obvious visual issues. Following a visual inspection, the functional aspects of the golf cart vehicle safety devices should be checked, such as: steering, brakes, mirrors, wipers, seat belt, horn, signals and correctly charged battery. Refer to the owners’ manual for other inspection and maintenance recommendations. Note: Proper battery maintenance is very important. Older batteries have been known to explode due to overcharging. Refer to owner’s manual for correct charging procedures. Tampering or modifying the golf cart vehicle’s governor is prohibited.”

[28] Headlamps; Front and Rear Turn Signal Lamps; Tail lamps; Stop Lamps; Reflex Reflectors; Mirrors; Parking Brake; Windshield; Vehicle Identification Number (VIN); and Seat Belts.

[29] The controlling party is the person responsible for the management and maintenance of a PTV. See ANSI/ILTVA Z 135 obtainable from at no charge.

[30] See ANSI/ILTVA Z 135.

[31] Id.

[32]Regulatory Standards and Products Liability: Striking the Right Balance between the Two, Teresa Moran Schwartz, 30 U. Mich. J.L. Reform 431 (1996-1997)


[34] Id.

[35] Id.

[36] Compliance with Product Safety Standards as a Defense to Product Liability Litigation



[37] See Department of Transportation (DOT) Report to Congress – Operation of Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) on Roadways with a Maximum Speed Limit of 40 mph (64 kph):Fuel Consumption(2012) 2012) ((2012) Savings and Safety Ramifications

[38] Id.

[39] Id.

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