Vehicle Performance Characteristics and Seat Belt Effectiveness in Low Speed Vehicles and Golf Cars

Low Speed Vehicle (LSV) use on public roads is currently experiencing a tremendous increase in usage in the United States. There currently exists a debate concerning the impact these vehicles will have on our roadways and the occupant injury exposure resulting from their usage. Of particular controversy are the potential safety benefits and trade offs associated with the use of seat belts in LSV’s and golf cars. In an effort to create uniform safety guidelines for these vehicles the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has created a new category of “Low Speed Vehicle” (LSV) to regulate small, 4-wheeled motor vehicles, other than a truck, with top speeds of 20 to 25 miles per hour. Any vehicle capable of exceeding 25 mph would fall under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards for passenger cars. LSV’s, which include modified personal neighborhood vehicle (PNV), neighborhood electric vehicles (NEV) and golf cars, having a maximum speed greater than 20 mph, but not greater than 25 mph, fall under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 500 (49 CFR 571.500). At present, golf cars with a maximum speed of less than 20 mph are not required to comply with the LSV standard but are still subject to state and local regulation. Vehicle dynamic and occupant kinematics studies conducted by the authors indicate that golf cars moving at speeds as low as 11 mph are capable of rapidly producing the lateral accelerations necessary to quickly eject an unbelted occupant even with the hip restraints provided by most golf car manufacturers. The testing included a variety of LSV’s and golf cars ranging from a typical golf car with a top speed of 11 mph to an advanced LSV capable of reaching a top speed of 25 mph. In all cases the unbelted occupants were ejected in J-turn maneuvers while the belted occupants remained in the original seat. This study demonstrates that the safety benefits of seat belts in these vehicles are significant and should be required as safety devices when operated on roadways.


  • English

Media Info

  • Media Type: Web
  • Features: Appendices; Figures; References; Tables;
  • Pagination: 15p
  • Monograph Title: Proceedings - 19th International Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles (ESV), Washington, D.C., June 6-9, 2005

Subject/Index Terms

Filing Info

  • Accession Number: 01070919
  • Record Type: Publication
  • Report/Paper Numbers: 05-0431
  • Files: PRP, TRIS, USDOT
  • Created Date: Aug 29 2007 4:34PM