Massachusetts and Rhode Island, squished together at the southern end of New England, are close geographically, but the Bay State and the Ocean State are as different as can be in many ways.

Until recently, Rhode Island banned low-speed vehicles (LSVs) on public roads. However, as of July 1, 2024, LSVs "may be registered for use on public roads with posted speed limits up to 35 mph."

The Providence Journal reported, "LSVs are to be registered, insured, and inspected in accordance with Rhode Island laws and regulations established for motor vehicles."

Local Rhode Island governments may have their own rules and regulations regarding LSVs, which could include their prohibition.

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Unlike Rhode Island, Massachusetts is among the states that already allow limited use of LSVs on certain state roadways.

A low-speed vehicle is a four-wheeled motor vehicle with a top speed of 20-25 mph and a gross vehicle weight rating of less than 3,000 pounds. They can be electric or have combustion engines. They must have windshield wipers, seatbelts, turn signals and lights and must pass a safety inspection.

An example of an LSV is a GEM, an open-air vehicle similar to a golf cart often used at airports and campuses.

GEM via Facebook
GEM via Facebook
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Mass.gov says, "To be on a public way, LSVs must be registered, titled, insured, and inspected." The site says, "Low-speed vehicles are prohibited from 'limited access' and 'express state highways' and any portion of any other roads where the speed limit exceeds 30 mph."

The vehicles "may also be prohibited from other highly trafficked areas due to their inherent speed limitations." Commonwealth law says, "Local cities and towns may have their own ordinances regarding low-speed vehicles."

Golf carts can be converted to low-speed vehicles but are not considered LSVs by  Massachusetts and Rhode Island.

The Providence Journal reported, "Golf carts are not manufactured to LSV standards and therefore will NOT be registered as an LSV."

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