Ohio takes measures to define and regulate three-wheeled vehicles

In recent years, a number of manufacturers ventured into the production of three-wheeled vehicles. As the style became increasingly popular on the roads, many questions about these unique rides were left unanswered.

Three-wheeled vehicles in Ohio

Are three-wheeled vehicles considered cars or motorcycles? Do you need to a special license to operate one? Are they safe? Effective Sept. 14, Ohio’s House Bill 429 cleared up much of the confusion by offering an official definition and establishing regulations for this style of vehicle.

What is an autocycle?

three-wheeled vehicles
Photo courtesy of Polaris.

“Autocycles” are defined as three-wheeled motorcycles and, therefore, must be manufactured in compliance with federal safety regulations for motorcycles. Equipped with safety belts, a steering wheel and foot pedals, they are designed to allow operators and passengers to sit down while riding instead of straddling the vehicle like a traditional motorcycle. Most autocycles incorporate an inverted trike design, featuring two wheels in front and one in the rear.

Examples of autocycles include the Polaris Slingshot, Campagna T-REX and the Elio.

Who can drive one?

Anyone. As established under the new law, any individual who has a valid driver’s or commercial driver’s license may operate an autocycle. A motorcycle endorsement is not required.

Is safety gear required?

No. Autocycles are exempt from many of the safety equipment regulations that apply to traditional motorcycles. Protective eyewear and helmets are not required for any autocycle operator or passenger.

Although these new regulations offer much-needed clarification for the owners of three-wheeled vehicles across the state, it’s important to remember that autocycles are manufactured to comply with federal safety requirements for motorcycles, not cars.

As Polaris reminds motorists on their site, autocycles are not typically equipped with airbags and are not required to meet automotive safety standards. Autocycle drivers and passengers should always wear a DOT-approved full-face helmet, even if it is not required by law.

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