August 2014

In 1998 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established a limited set of safety standards for low-speed vehicles (LSVs) intended for vehicles used "to make short trips for shopping, social, and recreational purposes primarily within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses." To qualify as an LSV, a vehicle must have four wheels and a top speed of 20-25 mph.

LSVs are exempt from most federal safety standards that apply to motor vehicles, and they are not required to meet any criteria for vehicle crashworthiness. Each LSV must be equipped with headlamps, taillamps, stop lamps, reflectors, mirrors, a parking brake, a windshield and seat belts.

States, not NHTSA, are responsible for regulating the operation of motor vehicles on public roads and for handling LSV titling and registration. Most states allow LSVs to attain speeds no greater than 25 mph on roadways with speed limits of no more than 35 mph. Four states (Connecticut, Mississippi, Montana and Pennsylvania) do not have statutes allowing the use of LSVs on their public roads. Many states allow their departments of transportation or local jurisdictions to restrict the use of LSVs on their roads.

The table and map below show which roads LSVs are allowed to be driven on and their top legally attainable speeds.

Hover over map for more detail.