Golf car statutes

The following is a sampling of small vehicles as classified by various safety standards in the U.S. Omitted are vehicles not the subject of known U.S. standards or recognized in foreign venues, e.g., the European Quadricycle but not in the U.S.1)EC Directive 2002/24EC

1. Golf Cars. Golf cars are defined under ANSI/NGCMA Z 130.1 as a vehicle used to convey a person or persons and equipment to play the game of golf in an area designated as a golf course. To qualify as a golf car the vehicle’s average speed shall be less than (24 km/h) 15 MPH on a horizontally level surface, 0.5% grade (0.3 degrees) comprised of a straight course composed of a concrete or asphalt surface that is dry and free from loose material or surface contamination with a minimum coefficient of friction of 0.8 between tire and surface. ILTVA is the Standards Developer Organization, (“SDO”).

If a “golf car” type vehicle is capable of 15 MPH or more under the foregoing circumstances, it does not constitute a “golf car.” It will be considered either a Personal Transport Vehicle, (“PTV”), or a Low Speed Vehicle, (“LSV”).

Golf cars should be further distinguished from “golf carts,” pull carts or “trolleys” as they are called in the U.K. That is, a “cart” is not self propelling; a golf “car” is, by definition, self-propelled, either by an electric motor or an internal combustion engine or other internal power source. However, many persons, including those employed within the golf industry persist in erroneously referring to golf cars as “golf carts” and golf car paths as “cart” paths.

2. (a/k/a “PTVs”). A PTV is currently defined in ANSI/NGCMA Z135 as a self-propelled vehicle with a minimum of 4 wheels, capable of a maximum level ground speed of less than 32 km/h (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, operating on designated roadways or property where permitted by law, or the applicable regulatory authority. ILTVA is the SDO.

Personal transport vehicles

In 2004 ILTVA perceived the need to prescribe safety specifications for vehicles that basically are built on golf car chassis but are capable of exceeding the Golf Car permissible speed limitation of up to 15 MPH. Both original manufacturers of golf cars and after market vendors sell products that enhance the speed capability and safety of vehicles that were originally designed as golf cars or built on golf car chassis.

3. Low Speed Vehicles (“LSVs”). LSVs are defined in Section 1.1 of FMVSS 500, 49 CFR 571.500. LSVs are the subject of AAMVA model legislation2) drafted by its Legal Services (LS) Committee and the subject of legislation in a majority of states. Low speed vehicle means a 4-wheeled motor vehicle, whose speed attainable in 1 mile (1.6 km) is more than 20 miles per hour (32 kilometers per hour) and not more than 25 miles per hour (40 kilometers per hour) with not more than a 1 percent gradient in the direction of testing and not more than a 2 percent gradient perpendicular to the direction of testing. Also the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE) is the SDO for SAE J2358 Low Speed Vehicles.3)See ILTVA was actively involved in the development stages of FMVSS 500, the NHTSA regulation pertaining to Low Speed Vehicles (“LSVs”) to ensure the regulation did not purport to regulate golf cars which are not motor vehicles as defined under federal law.

Some jurisdictions refer to LSVs as Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (“NEVs”) although LSVs as defined above may be fossil fuel powered vehicles.

4. Utility and Transportation Vehicles (“UTVs”).  A UTV means a light transportation vehicle other than a golf car, PTV or LSV, primarily intended to transport material loads or people. See also Mini-Trucks below. Not included in this category are ATVs, Recreational Off-Highway Vehicles as defined in ANSI/ROHVA 1-2016, Recreational Powered Scooters and Pocket Bikes as defined in ASTM F2641-08, or vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling, or unmanned automatic guided vehicles.

Light Utility Vehicles are defined in SAE J 2258. The safety   specifications in this document apply to any self-propelled, operator-controlled, off-road vehicle 1828 mm (72 in) or less in overall width, exclusive of added accessories and attachments, operable on three or more wheels, primarily intended to transport material loads or people, with a gross vehicle weight of 2,500 kg (5,500 lb.) or less, and a maximum average speed less than 40 km/h (25 mph). The SDO is Society of Automotive Engineers. The use of LUVs is primarily off road or on uneven surfaces.

5. Personnel and Burden Carriers. The vehicles are defined in ANSI/ITSDF B56.8-2011 (Revision of ANSI/ITSDF B56.8-2006).4)See

This Standard defines safety requirements relating to the elements of design, operation, and maintenance of powered personnel and burden carriers having three or more wheels, a maximum speed not exceeding 40 km/h (25 mph), and a payload capacity not exceeding 4536 kg (10,000 lb). This Standard does not include vehicles intended primarily for earth moving or over-the-road hauling, or unmanned automatic guided vehicles. The SDO is Industrial Truck Standards Development Foundation. The use of these vehicles is primarily on road or on level flat surfaces.

6. All Terrain Vehicles (“ATVs”). An ATV is defined as a motorized off-highway vehicle designed to travel on four low pressure tires, having a seat designed to be straddled by the operator and handlebars for steering control. See ANSI/SVIA-1 2010.5)See The SDO is Specialty Vehicle Institute of America.

7. Recreational Off Highway Vehicles (“ROVs”).  ROVs are intended to be used on terrain similar to that on which all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) are used. ROVs are distinguished from ATVs by the presence of a steering wheel instead of a handle bar for steering, bench or bucket seats for the driver and passenger(s) instead of straddle seating, and foot controls for throttle and braking instead of levers located on the handle bar. In addition, ROVs have a rollover protective system (ROPS), restraint systems, and a maximum speed greater than 30 mph.6) The SDO is Recreational Off-Highway Vehicle Association.

8. Multipurpose Off-Highway Utility Vehicles (“MOHUVs”). MOHUVs are intended to transport a person(s) and/or cargo, with a top speed in excess of 25 mph (40.2 km/h); 2) 2030 mm (80 in) or less in overall width; 3) designed to travel on four or more wheels, two or four tracks, or combinations of four or more tracks and wheels; 4) using a steering wheel for steering control; 5) with a non-straddle seat;

6) with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of no more than 1814 kg (4000 lb), and 7) with a minimum cargo capacity of 159 kg (350 lb). See ANSI/OPEI 79.1-2016.7) The SDO is Outdoor Power Equipment Institute.

9. Recreational Powered Scooters and Pocket Bikes.8)See ASTM International is the SDO. The 50 states have at least 47 different ways of regulating the issues for electric bikes and scooters. The issues include how the vehicle is used, registration of the vehicle, vehicle licensing and operator licensing.

Some of the foregoing standards references may not be current or under revision and the most recent published versions of these standards should be consulted for currency.    

The foregoing classifications are muddled by statutory definitions adopted by various state and local governments. For example, Georgia defines a “PTV” as including any motor vehicle: (i) With a minimum of four wheels; (ii) Capable of a maximum level ground speed of less than 20 miles per hour; (iii) With a maximum gross vehicle unladen or empty weight of 1,375 pounds; and capable of transporting not more than eight persons.

Ohio defines a golf car as an under-speed vehicle, i.e., “Under-speed vehicle” means a three- or four-wheeled vehicle, including a vehicle commonly known as a golf cart, with an attainable speed on a paved level surface of not more than twenty miles per hour and with a gross vehicle weight rating less than three thousand pounds.

10. Medium Speed Vehicles (“MSVs”).9)–and-medium-speed-vehicles Tennessee created a “medium speed vehicle” for which no known institutional safety standard is thought to exist. “Medium speed vehicle” means any four-wheeled electric or gasoline-powered vehicle, excluding golf carts, whose top speed is greater than thirty miles per hour (30 mph) but not greater than thirty-five miles per hour (35 mph), including neighborhood electric vehicles and mini-trucks. Medium speed vehicles must meet or exceed the federal safety standards set forth in 49 CFR 571.500, except as otherwise provided in § 55-4-136.10) See more at: Minnesota similarly created a “medium speed vehicle” classification.11)See more at: Also the state of Washington.12) See and Oregon13)See  have enacted MSV legislation.

There are nine states (Kentucky, Maryland, Minnesota, Montana, Oklahoma, Oregon, Tennessee, Texas and Washington) that specifically allow MSV use on specified portions of their public roads. Colorado enacted a law permitting the use of MSVs on the road once the U.S. Department of Transportation sets safety standards for them. NHTSA has refused to do so. There are no known institutional SDO standards for MSVs.

11. Mini-Trucks. Mini-trucks are sold as off-road vehicles for farms and construction sites and are far smaller than conventional small trucks sold for on-the-road use. These vehicles go by many names, including Japanese minitruck, Kei truck, microtruck, and utility transportation vehicle.  Mini-trucks have the capacity to reach top speeds of 55 mph or more, but many are sold with devices that limit their speed to 25 mph.14); See also definition at at page 6. “Mini-truck means a motor vehicle meeting the requirements of the Japanese ―Kei Jidosha‖ classification, or designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property and having four wheels, an engine displacement of 660cc or less, an overall length of 130 inches (3.4m) or less, an overall height of 78 inches (2m) or less, an overall width of 60 inches (1.5m) or less.”

Federal safety standards don’t apply to mini-trucks because they are sold as off-road vehicles, even though they are permitted on public roads in some states. Twenty-one states now allow mini-trucks on specific portions of public roads. In Illinois and Missouri, mini-trucks are allowed only by local ordinance. Mini-trucks must comply with federal safety standards for low-speed vehicles in five states (Illinois, Kansas, Maine, New Hampshire and Tennessee).

  1. EC Directive 2002/24EC
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  10. See more at:
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  14.; See also definition at at page 6. “Mini-truck means a motor vehicle meeting the requirements of the Japanese ―Kei Jidosha‖ classification, or designed, used or maintained primarily for the transportation of property and having four wheels, an engine displacement of 660cc or less, an overall length of 130 inches (3.4m) or less, an overall height of 78 inches (2m) or less, an overall width of 60 inches (1.5m) or less.”

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Standards Interpretation

All requests for interpretation of a Standard for which ILTVA is the Accredited Standards Developer, must be in writing and addressed to ILTVA c/o the Secretary, The request for interpretation shall be in the following format:

– Subject: Cite the applicable paragraph number(s) and provide a concise description.

– Edition: Cite the applicable edition of the pertinent standard for which the interpretation is being requested.

– Question: Phrase the question as a request for an interpretation of a specific requirement suitable for general understanding and use, not as a request for approval of a proprietary design or situation. The inquirer may also include any plans or drawings that are necessary to explain the question; however, they should not contain proprietary names or information.

Note: The word, “shall,” is to be understood as denoting a mandatory requirement. The word “should” denotes a recommendation.

If the request does not conform to the required format, the Secretary shall reply to the person requesting the interpretation, informing the requester to revise the request to conform to the required format and that it will not be considered further until it conforms.

Upon receipt of a conforming request for interpretation, ILTVA’s Engineering Specifications Committee shall render a written interpretation by consensus vote and furnish the interpretation to the Secretary. The Secretary shall forward it to the person requesting it.

The ESC’s interpretation shall be final and conclusive unless the person requesting it serves written notice of appeal upon the Secretary within 30 days from receipt of the interpretation in accordance with the appeals policy adopted by ILTVA.

Interpretations of the Standards have been rendered and are available by contacting

Interpretation Rendered 07/28/2016

– Subject:        Section 11.2.2 regarding obtaining highest stabilized engine oil temperature.

– Edition:        ANSI/ILTVA Z135-2012

ANSI/ILTVA Z130.1-2012

Note – the section is the same in both standards

– Question:      The test description in section 11.2.2 is unclear as the total required test distance.  In section a) the standard instructs to “Operate the test vehicle under steady load and speed conditions to obtain highest stabilized engine oil temperature.”  Later in section a) the standard states Continue operation under same conditions for a minimum distance of 183 m (200 yards).  Is the requirement to operate the vehicle until the engine oil reaches a steady state temperature OR to operate for a minimum distance of 183 m (200 yards)?

– Response and Interpretation:

– Reference section from standards

11.2.2 Test

The test shall be conducted as follows:

a) Operate the test vehicle under steady load and speed conditions to obtain highest stabilized engine oil temperature. Steady load is defined by the following formula:

Steady load = TFfr + (0.342) TVW


TFfr = towing force; free rolling;

TVW = test vehicle weight;

0.342 = downhill component of a 20° slope.

Continue operation under same conditions for a minimum distance of 183 m (200 yards).

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