The Senate Appropriations Committee today approved a study proposed by U.S. Senator Lamar Alexander (R-Tenn.) to evaluate the potential savings in oil costs from increasing road privileges for Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs), four-wheeled vehicles that can go up to 35 mph.
“Tennessee has taken a step in the right direction by loosening restrictions on neighborhood electric vehicles that travel at lower speeds,” said Alexander during a hearing of the Senate Appropriation Committee. “I’m pleased that the Appropriations Committee has approved this study to determine the potential oil savings that could come from allowing these electric vehicles on more roads nationwide. With gas prices through the roof, one way to reduce the demand for oil would be if the rest of the country followed Tennessee’s example by allowing these electric vehicles on state roads posted at 40 mph or less. This could give families an easy alternative to filling up the family car just to go to the grocery store.”
Alexander said that if more states granted NEVs greater access to roadways, household fuel consumption could drop off, cutting the country’s overall dependence on foreign oil and helping lower gasoline prices.
The State of Tennessee enacted a law on July 1st to allow NEVs with a top speed of 35 mph to use roads where the speed limit is 40 mph. Tennessee joined Montana and Washington as the only states with such a law. Currently, all other states follow a 1998 federal law that only allows NEVs on roads posted at 35 mph or less. To operate on state roads, NEVs must meet federal safety standards that require headlights and taillights, turn signals, seat belts, a rearview mirror, a parking brake and a windshield.
The Alexander study was included in a managers’ amendment sponsored by the Chairman and Ranking Republican of the Transportation-HUD Appropriations Subcommittee. The amendment was approved by voice vote.