Sub Compact Utility Vehicle and Low Speed Vehicle Safety

The below program will have a soft launch with a registration period for all carts to begin December 2 and last through January 31, 2023. The below procedures go into effect February 1, 2023. Warnings and violations will be issued to carts at that time up to and including lockout. Please see the announcement that was sent to campus on December 5th. 

Registration Form Sign Up For Training Operating Procedures Operations Map FAQs

The Procedures fall under the authority of SMU Policy 11.6. Failure to follow these procedures may result in disciplinary action outlined in that policy.

Many departments across campus are utilizing Sub-Compact Utility Vehicles (SCUVs) or Low Speed Vehicles/Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (LSV/NEV) to maneuver around campus. Vehicles such as Gators, Polaris Gems, Club Cars, Toros, etc. may be less expensive and more convenient to use than conventional vehicles. While the increased convenience may be time-saving, these vehicles may pose different risks to occupants, pedestrians, and persons with disabilities. In addition, the cost to repair damage to hardscape and turf areas can be considerable. Therefore, to reduce risk and unnecessary cost, the following procedures are to be followed.

Polaris Gems and other SCUVs with 17 digit VIN numbers and State registrations comprise a specific class of vehicle known as low-speed vehicles (LSVs) or neighborhood electric vehicles (NEVs) and require additional operator procedures that are outlined below. LSVs and NEVs may not be operated on a street or highway for which the posted speed limit is greater than 45 miles per hour.



All SMU-owned, long-term-leased (greater than six weeks), and contractor-owned SCUVs or LSV/NEVs must be registered with the Office of Risk Management. Upon registration, a registration label will be issued (see example below). Labels may be picked up from the Office of Risk Management, suite 100, in the Dawson Service Center. This label is to be mounted on the inner front side of the passenger side windshield. Registration must be renewed every other year.

Short-term rentals (1 day to 41 days), must have a label on the front windshield (without blocking sight lines) identifying the responsible department or contractor and contact information. This label can be as simple as a laminated piece of paper affixed to the windshield.

Registration Form


Upon registration, each SMU-owned, long-term-leased, and contractor-owned SCUV or LSV/NEV will also be issued three sets of vinyl numbers, identical to the registration number assigned by the Office of Risk Management. These will be picked up concurrently with the registration label in Dawson Service Center Suite 100. The Operator will place the vinyl numbers on the vehicle. The numbers will be placed on the front, the left side, and the right side of the vehicle and must be maintained in readable condition at all times by the Operator department.

Short term leases or rentals (1-41 days), shall have the below (or similar) affixed in an easily seen location on the front of the vehicle, preferably in the upper left hand corner of the windshield while providing an unobstructed view. The tag must identify the department, responsible party, and a contact number.


Minimum Safety Features

All non-street legal SCUVs that are operated on campus property or business must be equipped with minimum safety features:

  • Headlights
  • Taillights
  • Reflective orange triangle
  • Driver's side and passenger side rear-view mirrors OR interior rear view mirror

Additional safety features may include:

  • Turn signals
  • Rooftop strobe

All safety features must be kept in good working order, and the department for which the unit is operated is responsible for the costs associated with installation and maintenance of these safety features.

Street legal vehicles classified as LSVs or NEVs are required to have the following:

  • A maximum speed of 35 mph
  • Four tires
  • Seat belts
  • Head and tail lights
  • A windshield
  • A parking brake
  • Turn signals
  • Rear-view mirrors
  • Brake lights
  • Reflectors
  • A valid 17-digit Vehicle Identification Number (VIN).
  • A valid state registration and license plate


All operators, including contractors and third parties, are required to have sub-compact utility vehicle training that is offered monthly by the Office of Risk Management. More details can be found on the ORM training website.


Operating Procedures

  • Operators must yield to pedestrians at all times. Care must be taken on sidewalks. Speed is to be reduced when approaching pedestrians and a vocal call-out or request to pass must be issued prior to passing pedestrians and other SCUVs.
    • Only non-street legal SCUVs are allowed to operate on sidewalks.
    • LSVs and NEVs are not allowed to operate on sidewalks except on pedestrian malls with fire lanes. Please refer to SCUV Operations Map for details. [1]
  • Operators are to be diligent and pay particular attention to the needs of disabled persons, as limitations in vision, hearing, or mobility may impair their ability to see, hear, or move out of the way of SCUVs.
  • Operators may not use cell phones or tablets for any reason including for text, email, music, photos, phone calls, or for any use while operating the SCUV
  • Operators may not wear headsets, earphones, or ear buds while operating SCUVs.
  • SCUVs and LSV/NEVs should be parked on hard surfaces and must not be parked under a covered area of the building, or building envelope. 
  • SCUVs not block any entrances to buildings, stairways, ramps, or thoroughfares.
  • SCUVs and LSV/NEVs may park in specifically designated areas in garages or covered parking lots but are not allowed to park in SMU permitted parking spots.
  • Operators are not to block handicap access points and ramps.
  • All items carried by SCUVs and LSV/NEVs will be secured (via bungee cords, tie-downs, etc.) to prevent them from falling out of the vehicle.
  • SCUVs and LSV/NEVs are not to be overloaded, i.e., carrying more passengers than seating provides or overloading the vehicle’s recommended carrying or equipment load capacity. Passengers are prohibited from riding in the utility bed of SCUVs or LSV/NEVs.
  • SCUVs and LSV/NEVs are to be used for University business only.
  • Keys are never to be left in the vehicle at any time. Operators are responsible for ignition keys for the period of time in which they are using the vehicle.
  • Operators are not allowed to drive SCUVs or LSV/NEVs under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
  • Operators will present SMU identification cards to SMU PD or ORM upon request.
  • SCUVs and and LSV/NEVs must be operated in accordance with state law and city ordinances.

[1]Texas Transportation Code: Sec. 545.422. CROSSING SIDEWALK OR HIKE AND BIKE TRAIL. 

(a) A person may not drive a motor vehicle on a sidewalk, sidewalk area, or hike and bike trail except on a permanent or authorized temporary driveway.

(b) Subsection (a) does not prohibit the operation of a motor vehicle on a hike and bike trail in connection with maintenance of the trail.

(c) In this section, "hike and bike trail" means a trail designed for the exclusive use of pedestrians, bicyclists, or both.


SCUVs and LSV/NEVs must be kept in safe operating condition at all times. Vehicles that are rendered unsafe to operate must be taken out of service immediately. This is the financial responsibility of the department for which the particular SCUV or LSV/NEVs is operated, and maintenance contracts must be obtained through the Purchasing Department.

Driving and Parking Locations

Effective February 1, 2023, non-street legal SCUVs are not allowed to cross Highway 75 or Mockingbird. Non-street legal SCUVs shall only be used to conduct University business on the main, contiguous campus (see SCUV Operations map).


Street legal SCUVs, LSVs and NEVs are only allowed to operate on streets and pedestrian malls with fire lanes. Sidewalk operation is prohibited.


Non-street-legal SCUVs are not permitted to be driven on city-owned streets outside of the contiguous campus. The map linked below outlines areas where SCUVs and LSV/NEVs are allowed to be operated. These vehicles shall not be driven on grassy/landscaped areas or inside any University building.

Parking of SCUVs, LSVs and NEVs is prohibited in the following locations:

  • Vehicle parking spaces of any kind
  • Grassy/landscaping areas
  • Within 10 feet of any building entrance or fire hydrant
  • Blocking a crosswalk, loading dock, fire lane, stairs, access ramps, or curb cut

SCUV Driving Map

Disciplinary Process

Failure to follow Policy 11.6 and the aforementioned procedures may result in loss of use of SCUVs, LSVs, or NEVs for an individual or a department and/or disciplinary action up to and including termination. The Office or Risk Management, SMU Police Department, and SMU Parking and ID Card Services reserves the right to temporarily disable or secure SCUVs, LSVs, and NEVs in violation of this policy and incorporated procedures.

Procurement Process

The Purchasing Department has established standards and methods for the procurement of SCUVs. Please contact prior to requesting a quote from any vendor and the Purchasing Department will assist in the proper procurement process.