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They are great to putter around the neighborhood in, or zip to the store to pick up a few groceries. But low-speed vehicles (LSV) and mini-trucks are no match for regular traffic when it comes to an accident.
Recent crash tests preformed by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) illustrate what happens when the two types of vehicle collide – and the results aren’t pretty. Although many states allow LSVs (also known as neighborhood electric vehicles) to share the road with regular traffic because they reduce emissions and cut fuel use, they don’t have to meet the basic safety standards that cars and pickups do.
“By allowing LSVs and minitrucks on more and more kinds of roads, states are carving out exceptions to 40 years of auto safety regulations that save lives,” says David Zuby, the IIHS’s chief research officer. “It’s a troubling trend that flies in the face of the work insurers, automakers, and the federal government have done to reduce crash risk.”
You can find LSVs pretty much everywhere in the U.S., on any road with a speed limit of 35 mph or lower. Their rapid surge in popularity is evident, with drivers and policy makers alike. In eight years, the number of states that allow LSVs on the road as risen from just over a dozen states to 46. Primarily intended for recreational purposes within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) set the standard for LSVs in 1998. It’s important to note that mini-trucks weren’t even on the radar when these standards were introduced
Both types of vehicles are now allowed to share the same roads as other cars, trucks and SUVs, so it’s no surprise that no good will come when the two types collide with regular traffic. If you’re planning on purchasing an LSV or mini-truck, Zuby recommends spending more on a standard pickup to get crash protection and a vehicle that’s suitable to drive on all roads. If you’ looking to shrink you environmental footprint, a better choice for regular traffic is a crashworthy hybrid like the Toyota Prius or another fuel-efficient car.
[Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety]