Electric vehicles aren't quite the new phenomenon many people think they are -- and we're not talking about GM's electric vehicle in the late 1980s. As anyone who lives in or near one those posh gated communities can probably tell you, tiny neighborhood electric, low-speed vehicles ferry people back and forth within said communities and around town. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, the "back and forth within the community" isn't a problem, but "around town" certainly is. Allowing such vehicles access to the same roads as regular traffic, which dozens of states do, puts the drivers at high risk for grievous injury and death.
The problem, according to the IIHS, is that even though low-speed vehicles can't travel at high speeds (usually 25 mph or so), such vehicles are rarely, if ever, equipped to handle a crash of any kind.
Case in point: The IIHS crashed two LSVs on their sides at a mere 31 mph -- one into a barrier, the other into a car. In both cases, the tests showed the passengers of the LSV would have been either seriously injured or killed.
Oh, that car they crashed it into during one of the tests? Hardly a full-size SUV; instead, it was the dinky Smart fortwo, the smallest car allowed on U.S. roads.
The IIHS is pushing the government to ban these things from regular roads, and considering that they are little more than modified golf carts (and, in some cases, are exactly modified golf carts), I think it has a valid point.