Trooper Schmidt answers questions about mini truckOne morning, one of the guys (Bob; not real name) said a friend of his (Bill; not real name) had purchased a mini-pickup that had a right hand driver’s seating position. Bob said he told Bill that he had heard you on the radio say it was illegal to drive that type of vehicle in Minnesota. True or false?
By: By Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, Alexandria Echo Press
Question: One morning, one of the guys (Bob; not real name) said a friend of his (Bill; not real name) had purchased a mini-pickup that had a right hand driver’s seating position. Bob said he told Bill that he had heard you on the radio say it was illegal to drive that type of vehicle in Minnesota. True or false?
Answer: Bob was right. I did go on several radio stations and say it was illegal to drive that type of vehicle on Minnesota roads. At the time I said that I was correct. However, this area saw some changes with the latest legislative session and took effect on August 1. A new subdivision has been added to statute 169.011 defining what a mini-truck is. According to subdivision 40a clause (a) “Mini truck” means a motor vehicle that has four wheels; is propelled by an electric motor with a rated power of 7,500 watts or less or an internal combustion engine with a piston displacement capacity of 660 cubic centimeters or less; has a total dry weight of 900 to 2,200 pounds; contains an enclosed cabin and a seat for the vehicle operator; commonly resembles a pickup truck or van, including a cargo area or bed located at the rear of the vehicle; and was not originally manufactured to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards required of motor vehicles in the Code of Federal Regulations, title 49, sections 571.101 to 571.404, and successor requirements. (b) A mini truck does not include: (1) a neighborhood electric vehicle or a medium-speed electric vehicle; or (2) a motor vehicle that meets or exceeds the regulations in the Code of Federal Regulations, title 49, section 571.500, and successor requirements.”
My concern with these machines is that they were not manufactured to meet federal motor vehicle safety standards. These standards have been adopted and revised over the years. I was very concerned about the lack of such safety standards in these machines. However, our legislators were smart enough to restrict the operation of these machines. They restricted the operation of mini-trucks to basically the same as golf carts and ATVs under statute 169.045. Here is a brief on the basics of this statute.
Subdivision 1 allows counties, towns or cities to pass an ordinance to allow the operation of mini-trucks on designated roads. Authorization is by permit only. Subdivision 2 requires the ordinance to designate the roadways that operation is allowed on, require evidence of insurance and may prescribe conditions under which a permit may be granted. Permits may be granted for a period of not to exceed one year, and may be annually renewed. A permit may be revoked if there is evidence that the person cannot safely operate the mini truck on the designated roadways. Subdivisions 3 and 4 do not apply to mini-trucks.
According to Sb 5 the operator, under permit, may cross any street or highway intersecting a designated roadway.
Subdivision 6 basically states that traffic laws do apply, and sb 7 states that our driver’s license laws also apply to operators of mini-trucks. And now for subdivision 7a, which lists some equipment requirements and basically states: a mini truck may be operated under permit on designated roadways if it is equipped with: (1) at least two headlamps; (2) at least two tail lamps; (3) front and rear turn-signal lamps; (4) an exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle and either (i) an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side of the vehicle or (ii) an interior mirror; (5) a windshield; (6) a seat belt for the driver and front passenger; and (7) a parking brake.
Parents, don’t just hand over the keys to your new driver. Take the time to ride with them and let them gain experience before allowing them to face the dangers of a public road on their own.
Send questions concerning traffic-related laws in Minnesota to Trooper Andy Schmidt, Minnesota State Patrol, 1000 Highway 10 West, Detroit Lakes, MN 56501-2205. Or e-mail email@example.com.