Ministry of Transportation / Ministère des Transports
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Frequently Asked Questions - Low-Speed Vehicle Pilot Test

  1. What is a low-speed vehicle (LSV)?
  2. Is a low-speed vehicle the same as a neighbourhood electric vehicle? What about a golf cart?
  3. Is an LSV an off-road vehicle?
  4. What is the ministry's position on low-speed vehicles (LSV) and electric vehicles?
  5. What consultations did the ministry undertake before deciding to allow these vehicles for use on Ontario's roads?
  6. I saw a low-speed vehicle in use at an Ontario Provincial Park. Does this mean they are legal on Ontario roads now?
  7. Who can drive an LSV?
  8. On which roads can park employees drive?
  9. What is the purpose of the pilot?
  10. Why were parks chosen to be the pilot site for low-speed vehicles?
  11. If these vehicles are environmentally friendly, why is the ministry only allowing conservation, municipal and provincial park employees to use them?
  12. What types of vehicles are being pilot tested under the pilot provision of Bill 169?
  13. What are the timelines?
  14. I know of a quiet, resort-type setting that would be perfect for the testing of LSVs. How can I/my organization become part of this pilot program?
  15. Will the province allow others to use these vehicles in the near future?
  16. How did the Ministry of Transportation come up with the definition of "a low-speed vehicle"?
  17. Can another vehicle (for example, a golf cart, go-cart, etc.) be converted into a low-speed vehicle for use by pilot operators?
  18. What, if any, role does Transport Canada have in allowing these vehicles on Ontario roads?
  19. Are there other jurisdictions that allow the use of LSVs and electric vehicles on public roads? If yes, where are they?
  20. If these vehicles are safe enough to use in New York, Michigan, Ohio, etc., why is Ontario restricting their use so tightly?
  21. How is a low-speed vehicle different than a slow-moving vehicle? If I put a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of an LSV, does that make it legal for on-road use?
  22. Where can low-speed vehicle be used?
  23. How would these vehicles be registered?
  24. What about safety requirements?
  25. I have heard that these vehicles do not offer much protection to operators and passengers in the event of a collision. If this is true, why is the Ministry of Transportation allowing them to be used at all?
  26. Why doesn't Transport Canada make these vehicles safer, more roadworthy?
  27. What are the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Natural Resources/municipalities doing to ensure the safety of parks staff who operate low-speed vehicles?
  28. What is the ministry's position on Segways, go-peds, pocket bikes and other emerging vehicles?

1.  What is a low-speed vehicle (LSV)?

Illustration of a low-speed vehicle

A low-speed vehicle (LSV) is a vehicle powered by an electric motor, is designed to travel on four wheels, and must have an attainable speed of 32 km/h, but not exceed 40 km/h, on a paved level surface (Transport Canada definition).

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2.  Is a low-speed vehicle the same as a neighbourhood electric vehicle? What about a golf cart?

  • A neighbourhood electric vehicle is considered a low-speed vehicle as long, as at the time of manufacture, it met all of the requirements of a low-speed vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (MVSA).
  • Although golf carts may resemble low-speed vehicles, they typically do not meet the requirements for low-speed vehicles as specified in the MVSA (e.g., typically do not have adequate lighting, windshields, brakes).

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3.  Is an LSV an off-road vehicle?

A low-speed vehicle does not meet the definition of an off-road vehicle, according to the Off-Road Vehicles Act. Therefore, it is not subject to the Off-Road Vehicles Act. However, it is also not permitted on public roads in Ontario.

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4.  What is the ministry's position on low-speed vehicles (LSV) and electric vehicles?

  • The ministry is interested in new, environmentally-friendly vehicles that will improve the mobility of all Ontarians without compromising the safety of road users.
  • The passing of Bill 169 allows the piloting of new vehicles and new technologies. The ministry has launched pilots for LSVs and electric bicycles.

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5.  What consultations did the ministry undertake before deciding to allow these vehicles for use on Ontario's roads?

The ministry consulted with various stakeholders, including industry representatives, police officers, safety organizations, other ministries and municipalities with a view to initiating pilot tests of LSVs and other electric-powered vehicles.

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6.  I saw a low-speed vehicle in use at an Ontario Provincial Park. Does this mean they are legal on Ontario roads now?

No. Low-speed vehicles cannot be driven on Ontario roads. The LSV you saw is part of a pilot program that is limited to Ontario provincial parks, municipal parks and conservation areas.

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7.  Who can drive an LSV?

Park and conservation area employees with any valid driver's licence (other than Class M, M1, M2 or G1) can drive a low-speed vehicle.

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8.  On which roads can park employees drive?

Low-speed vehicles may only be driven within the boundaries of parks and conservation areas on roads with speed limits of 40 km/h or lower.

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9.  What is the purpose of the pilot?

Piloting these new electric vehicles will help us to determine the safe use of these vehicles: appropriate operator qualifications, on what roads they should be allowed to travel and necessary safety equipment.

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10.  Why were parks chosen to be the pilot site for low-speed vehicles?

  • Parks are an ideal location for the pilot testing of low-speed vehicles because they provide a controlled, low-speed environment in which to test the vehicles. For example, speed limits on most provincial park roads do not exceed 40 km/h and campground roads have speed limits of 20 km/h. This allows the LSVs to operate at the same speed as the rest of the park's traffic.
  • From an environmental standpoint, parks are also a good site for the piloting of this vehicle type. Provincial and municipal parks and conservation areas have a strong commitment to environmental stewardship and education, and the use of emissions-free vehicles is one way to preserve the air quality in the parks. The vehicles are also valuable teaching tools in educating park visitors on how to creatively reduce their environmental impact.

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11.  If these vehicles are environmentally friendly, why is the ministry only allowing conservation, municipal and provincial park employees to use them?

  • The government must balance the need to test environmentally friendly, low emission vehicles while maximizing operator safety and the safety of other road users. These vehicles are not intended to be used on roads with high traffic density and are incapable of reaching the speed limits of most public roads.
  • The pilot will be testing LSVs in controlled areas to ensure both the operator and other road users are safe. The pilot operators will ensure that:
    • Vehicle loads are restricted,
    • Vehicles will travel only on roads with a speed limit of 40km/hr or less
    • Operators are qualified and trained and licensed
    • All safety equipment on the LSVs is fully operational (i.e., lights, brakes, structural integrity).

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12.  What types of vehicles are being pilot tested under the pilot provision of Bill 169?

· We are piloting other electric powered vehicles: power-assisted bicycles (electric bicycles), by anyone aged 16 and over, and SegwaysTM, by persons with disabilities who are 14 years of age or older, Canada Post letter carriers and police.

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13.  What are the timelines?

The authority to run an LSV pilot starts September 19, 2006, and will run for a period of five years from the start date. There will an interim evaluation report before the end of the pilot.

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14.  I know of a quiet, resort-type setting that would be perfect for the testing of LSVs. How can I/my organization become part of this pilot program?

  • The pilot program is limited in scope to provincial and municipal parks and conservation areas. No other participants are being considered at this time. The results of this pilot project will be used to inform the Ministry of Transportation of the vehicle's safety and handling and whether the vehicle should be tested in other settings.
  • Any use of LSVs on public roads outside of the pilot will remain illegal and operators will be ticketed for failing to meet vehicle safety standards. Property owners may allow the use of low-speed vehicles on private property at their own risk.

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15.  Will the province allow others to use these vehicles in the near future?

At this time, there are no plans to allow LSV use on public roads outside of parks.

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16.  How did the Ministry of Transportation come up with the definition of "a low-speed vehicle"?

Ontario adopted the Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) definition of a low-speed vehicle, which means a vehicle that complies with the requirements for a low-speed vehicle as prescribed in the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, s. 2(1), and is equipped with:

  1. Headlamps
  2. Front and rear turn signal lamps
  3. Tail lamps,
  4. Stop lamps,
  5. Reflex reflectors: one red on each side as far to the rear as practicable, and one red on the rear,
  6. An exterior mirror mounted on the driver's side of the vehicle and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger's side of the vehicle or an interior mirror,
  7. A parking brake,
  8. A windshield of AS-1 or AS-5 composition that conforms to the American National Standard Institute's "Safety Code for Safety Glazing Materials for Glazing Motor Vehicles Operating on Land Highways"
  9. A VIN that conforms to the requirements of Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) section 115 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, Vehicle Identification Number, and
  10. A Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly conforming to Motor Vehicle Safety Act (Canada) section 209 of the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations, Seat belt assemblies, installed at each designated seating position.

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17.  Can another vehicle (example a golf cart, go-cart, etc.) be converted into a low-speed vehicle for use by pilot operators?

No. The pilot is intended to test vehicles originally manufactured as LSVs.

The vehicle must qualify as a low-speed vehicle under the Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations and be labeled as such by the manufacturer and meet all labeling requirements under the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations.

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18.  What, if any, role does Transport Canada have in allowing these vehicles on Ontario roads?

  • Under the Motor Vehicle Safety Act and its regulations, Transport Canada defines and regulates the safety standards and requirements of the classes of motor vehicles introduced into the Canadian market. The regulations also identify vehicles that are not intended for on-road use, or intended for restricted on-road use. However, they do not regulate whether the vehicles may be used on public roads. The creation of a vehicle class and associated safety standards by Transport Canada does NOT imply that the vehicle is appropriate for the traffic mix of public roads.
  • Provinces and territories govern the use and regulation, including registration and driver licensing, of motor vehicles on public roadways.

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19.  Are there other jurisdictions that allow the use of LSVs and electric vehicles on public roads? If yes, where are they?

Canadian Jurisdictions

  • Since August 16, 2000, British Columbia has allowed LSVs on its roads and these vehicles are subject to conditions similar to slow-moving vehicles. For example, they are not allowed on major highways (such as the Trans Canada Highway, Highways 2 through 24, 97), bridges and tunnels.
  • Several pilot studies have taken place in Quebec, testing the vehicles' ability to operate safely in suburban, downtown and resort environments. However, Quebec has not permitted their widespread use throughout the province.

U.S. Jurisdictions

  • LSVs can be driven on public roads in 43 states, including New York, Michigan, Ohio, Massachusetts, Washington, California.
  • 8 US states do not allow LSVs on public roads.

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20.  If these vehicles are safe enough to use in New York, Michigan, Ohio, etc., why is Ontario restricting their use so tightly?

Ontario is proud of its record of having the safest roads in North America and wishes to maintain that status. Although many American states allow low-speed vehicles on their roads, most Canadian provinces do not. Transport Canada has clarified that, in creating a vehicle standard for low-speed vehicles, it did not intend to imply that they were safe for use on public roads in mixed traffic. Therefore, Ontario is starting slowly in introducing low-speed vehicles to a controlled, low-speed environment, with lower exposure to mixed traffic. Provincial and municipal parks and conservation areas offer an opportunity to test the vehicles' safety with lower risk to public safety and LSV operators.

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21.  How is a low-speed vehicle different than a slow-moving vehicle? If I put a slow-moving vehicle sign on the back of an LSV, does that make it legal for on-road use?

In Ontario, slow-moving vehicles (such as horse-drawn vehicles and self-propelled farming equipment) that cannot attain speeds greater than 40 km/h are prohibited from operating on 400-series highways and from major bridges and tunnels. These vehicles are not considered "motor vehicles" under the Highway Traffic Act. Because a low-speed vehicle has a motor but is not used as farming equipment, it is treated as a motor vehicle. Also, low-speed vehicles do not meet all of the safety standards required of motor vehicles in Ontario and, therefore, are not permitted for use on public roads. A sign does not change this.

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22.  Where can low-speed vehicle be used?

  • Currently, these vehicles are not allowed on Ontario roadways, with the exception of roadways within provincial or municipal parks and conservation areas (when driven by an authorized park employee).
  • The vehicles are permitted on private property, which are not governed by the Highway Traffic Act.
  • Ontario continues to look at the interactions of all vehicles in a way that will be safe for all road users and pedestrians.

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23.  How would these vehicles be registered?

Pilot operators are not required to register or plate LSVs, but are required to have the vehicles insured for liability.

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24.  What about safety requirements?

  • Transport Canada has amended the federal Motor Vehicle Safety Regulations to introduce new categories of vehicles such as low-speed vehicles.
  • Safety equipment requirements for low-speed vehicles under this regulation include headlamps; front and rear turn signal lamps; tail lamps; stop lamps; red reflex reflectors; a parking brake; an AS-1 or AS-5 windshield; a Vehicle Identification Number (VIN); and a Type 1 or Type 2 seat belt assembly installed at each designated seating position.
  • This approach to vehicle safety standards will benefit manufacturers and, ultimately, the people who operate an LSV.

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25.  I have heard that these vehicles do not offer much protection to operators and passengers in the event of a collision. If this is true, why is the Ministry of Transportation allowing them to be used at all?

The Ministry of Transportation is aware of the vehicles' poor crash test results and used this as a deciding factor in restricting the vehicles to the low-speed environment in provincial parks. Speed limits within provincial parks are 40 km/h on main roads, and 20 km/h on campground roads. The low-speed environment helps to reduce the number and severity of collisions.

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26.  Why doesn't Transport Canada make these vehicles safer, more roadworthy?

  • Transport Canada is currently considering changing the standards regulating low-speed vehicles to clarify that they are not intended for on-road use in mixed traffic.
  • It is the responsibility of vehicle manufacturers to ensure that their product meets standards for on-road use if they wish their vehicles to be used in this fashion.

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27.  What are the Ministry of Transportation and the Ministry of Natural Resources/municipalities doing to ensure the safety of parks staff who operate low-speed vehicles?

The regulation allowing the use of low-speed vehicles in parks requires that operators have a valid driver's licence. This ensures that all operators are familiar with the rules of the road and have demonstrated their driving ability. In addition, the Ministry of Natural Resources has a strong Occupational Health and Safety policy that restricts the use of motor vehicles to experienced, responsible staff. Staff will be trained in the specific operation of low-speed vehicles before being permitted to drive them on park roads.

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28.  What is the ministry's position on Segways, go-peds, pocket bikes and other emerging vehicles?

  • A Segway cannot currently legally be operated on Ontario roadways, as it does not meet all of the requirements of a "motor vehicle" as defined in the Highway Traffic Act (HTA), including lights and other safety equipment. It cannot be registered or plated.
  • The safety of vehicles on public roads is a top priority for this ministry. Go-peds, pocket bikes and other motorized "toys" are classified by Transport Canada as "restricted-use Motorcycles" and not recommended for on-road use.
    • These vehicles do not meet the safety standards for motor vehicles and are not permitted on public roads in Ontario, but they may be driven on private property.

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See also: New and Alternative Vehicles: Information Update