Senator David Vitter (R-LA) introduced legislation that would create a new class of vehicle, reports the Motorcycle Riders Foundation. S. 685 would create a new class of vehicles known as autocycles, to accommodate a growing trend in vehicle design. An emerging vehicle style, three wheeled enclosed vehicles equipped with a steering wheel are growing in popularity. These types of vehicles have been lumped in with motorcycles and therefore tagged and registered as motorcycles. Clearly these vehicles are not motorcycles and they do need their own category. It is easy to see why the efficient, affordable transportation would catch on so quickly.
U.S. Senate file 685 would require the new class to meet both motorcycle safety standards as well as passenger vehicle standards in vehicles weighing less than 10,000 pounds. These standards include seating systems, belted occupant protection, child restraints, roof crush resistance, and flammability protections.
There are many new three-wheeled vehicles coming into the marketplace. Some examples are the Polaris Slingshot and Toyota i-Road (built by Elio Motors). Elio is based out of Senator Vitters home state of Louisiana. Senator Vitter is the Chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works, Subcommittee on Transportation and Infrastructure.
It remains to be seen whether this is the answer to this growing vehicle class, but with numbers climbing something is going to have to happen with government vehicle classes. According to the Elio webpage over 40,000 of the enclosed three-wheeled vehicles have been reserved.
The Motorcycle Riders Foundation will keep you updated on this issue.