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Neighborhood Electric Vehicles

This act authorizes and regulates the operation of “neighborhood electric vehicles” on certain highways in the state.

A “neighborhood electric vehicle” is defined in the motor vehicle statutes as a self-propelled, electrically-powered motor vehicle which is emission free; designed to carry four or fewer persons; designed to be, and is, operated at speeds of 25 miles per hour or less; has at least four wheels in contact with the ground; has an unladen weight of less than 1,800 pounds; and conforms to the minimum safety equipment requirements as adopted in the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.

These vehicles may not be operated on a highway with a speed limit in excess of 35 miles per hour; however, they may cross a highway which has a speed limit of 50 miles per hour or less if the crossing begins and ends on a highway authorized for use by these vehicles and there is an intersection that is controlled by traffic control signals. The traffic committee for state highways and the legislative body of a municipality may prohibit operation of these vehicles on highways within their respective jurisdictions when deemed to be in the interest of public safety.

The act further provides that rules adopted under the provisions of 10 V.S.A. chapter 23 (air pollution control) shall not include a requirement for delivery or sales of electric vehicles that derive all of their power from batteries. The traffic committee, in consultation with the Vermont league of cities and towns, is directed to submit a report to the general assembly not later than December 31, 2004 which evaluates the safety of neighborhood electric vehicle operation in the state, with recommendations for any amendments to this act.

Effective Date: The provision of this act which authorizes operation of neighborhood electric vehicles on specified highways took effect on April 29, 2003; the remainder of the act takes effect upon adoption of a rule by the department of motor vehicles which amends the Vermont motor vehicle inspection manual to address the inspection of neighborhood electric vehicles.