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Street legal or road legal refers to a vehicle such as an automobile, motorcycle, or light truck that is equipped and licensed for use on public roads, being therefore roadworthy. This will require specific configurations of lighting, signal lights, and safety equipment. Some specialty vehicles that will not be operated on roads therefore do not need all the features of a street-legal vehicle; examples are a vehicle used only off-road (such as a sandrail) that is trailered to its off-road operating area, and a race car that is used only on closed race tracks and therefore does not need all the features of a street-legal vehicle. As well as motor vehicles, the street-legal distinction applies in some jurisdictions to track bicycles that lack street-legal brakes and lights. Street legality rules can even affect race car helmets, which possess visual fields too narrow for use on an open road without the risk of missing a fast-moving vehicle.
In Canada, all ten provinces follow a consistent set of national criteria issued by Transport Canada for specific equipment required as part of a street-legal vehicle. In some provinces, the Highway Traffic Act is a matter of provincial jurisdiction; provinces with such an Act include Ontario, Manitoba, Newfoundland, and Labrador.
Many but not all U.S.-model vehicles do qualify for importation to Canada, but must meet requirements for items such as daytime running lights (standard on Canadian-market vehicles since 1991, but not required in the U.S.), anti-theft immobilisers, and anchorage points for child seats. Cars from other countries (such as the UK) typically do not qualify, as standards are too widely divergent from those in Canada.
Requirements for manufacturing, registering, and operating motor vehicles in India are codified by the Central Motor Vehicles Rules (CMVR), as maintained by the Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. Street-legal two-, three-, and four-wheeled vehicles must comply with structure, safety equipment, and operating conditions in CMVR 93–125.
In the United Kingdom, vehicles must pass the Single Vehicle Approval (SVA) scheme, a pre-registration inspection for cars and light goods vehicles that have not been type-approved to British or European standards. Since August 2001, there have been two levels of SVA, those being 'standard' and 'enhanced.' The standard SVA is applied vehicles such as left-hand drive vehicles, personally imported vehicles, amateur built vehicles and armoured vehicles, to name a few. Vehicles which do not fall into one of the standard SVA categories – for example a vehicle of right-hand drive – require enhanced SVA in addition to standard SVA inspections.
The SVA is in the process of being replaced by the Individual Vehicle Approval (IVA).
In the United States, the individual states have the authority to determine, by means of statutes and regulations, which types of vehicles are permitted on public streets, as a function of police power. Vehicles that are considered street-legal in the U.S. include automobiles, trucks, and motorcycles. Some vehicles that are not generally sold for on-road driving – such as all-terrain vehicles (ATVs) and golf carts – can be adapted for street use.
Most requirements for automobiles are consistent between U.S. states. A notable exception is California emission control, which has traditionally been more strict than that in other states. Common requirements for automobiles include structure (examples: windsheld and hood) and safety equipment (examples: headlamps and bumpers).
- "Frequently Asked Questions about Snell and Helmets". Snell Memorial Foundation, Inc.
- The Registrar of Imported Vehicles, a private company under contract by Transport Canada, provides some information on which US-model vehicles are or can be made street-legal in Canada.
- "Importing vehicles purchased in countries OTHER than the United States". Transport Canada. Government of Canada. 1 January 2013.
- "Central Motor Vehicles Rules 1989". Ministry of Road Transport and Highways. 2012-06-18.
- "Rules relating to Type Approval of Vehicles and Methods of Establishing Compliance". Society of Indian Automobile Manufacturers (SIAM). 2005.
- "7. Single Vehicle Approval". Guide: Vehicle approval. GOV.UK. 23 September 2013.
- "The UK Single Vehicle Approval Scheme". GOV.UK.[dead link]
- "State Motorcycle Laws". American Motorcyclist Association.
- Buono, Arthur (8 January 2011). "What Makes a Car Street Legal?". Lawyers.com.
- American Motorcyclist Association (27 September 2012), Motocycle Laws by State (Revised 9-27-2012)