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California Motor Vehicle Code 21251

Low-Speed Vehicles

According to California Vehicle Code 21251, low speed vehicles have the same rights on the roads as all other vehicles. Low speed vehicles are electric vehicles that resemble glorified golf-carts. Low speed vehicles are usually designed to go speeds up to 25 mph, where golf carts are designed to travel at only 15 mph.

These electric cars are fuel efficient and better for the environment. California legislators are concerned with the high levels of air pollution in the major cities, and the use of more environmentally friendly transportation is encouraged. For this reason, electric cars are permitted on many city streets.

There are a few exceptions to the rules of the road that apply to low speed vehicles. These vehicles are not allowed to operate on any street where the speed limit exceeds 35 miles per hour. Crossing roadways where the speed is greater than 35 mph is permitted only if the street you are leaving and the street you are going to are both 35 mph roads. These cars can also be prohibited from operating on any public street if local authorities in your city deem them unsafe.

If local authorities determine the use of low speed vehicles on their roads is unsafe, they must post signs letting drivers know the use of low speed vehicles has been prohibited.

Keep in mind that low speed vehicles do not come with the same safety equipment of higher speed motor vehicles. There are no air bags, no roll bars, and very little protection for passengers if you are involved in a crash with another car or truck. While operating on a heavily traveled roadway may be legal in your town, it may not be safe. Use good judgment when traveling in a low speed vehicle.


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