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A motor vehicle is a machine which incorporates a motor (sometimes known as an engine), and which is used for transportation. The internal combustion engine is the most common motor choice, although electric motors or other types are sometimes used. Land vehicles are usually equipped with wheels, and usually operate on roads.

Some common examples:

  • an automobile (usually known as a car in Britain, from a legal term motorised carriage)
  • a truck (commonly called a lorry in Britain, - until about 1911 a railway term from load bearer)
  • a bus
  • a motorboat
  • a motorcycle
  • a motorized bicycle (generally a moped in Britain from a legal term motorised pedal cycle)

In most jurisdictions, use of different classes of vehicle is governed by a traffic or highway code which determines amongst other things:

  • who can drive (typically adults who hold a valid driving license for the class of vehicle)
  • in what circumstances one can drive (e.g., in possession of insurance, not drunk, etc.)
  • where a vehicle can and cannot be driven
  • speed limits
  • Right-of-way
  • requirement to use specified equipment (motorcycle helmet, safety belt, etc.)
  • requirements to meet standards of safety, to display a license plate, etc.

See also


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