Friday, June 21, 2024

Golf carts in Carolina Beach could face more strict regulations as popularity increases

  • As population has grown, so has the popularity of golf carts
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  • The town currently has registered more than 800 carts and slow moving vehicles
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  • Officials want to clarify the town's eight current regulations
  • Golf cart accidents in Carolina Beach are less frequent than automobile accidents, but still happen (Photo courtesy of Carolina Beach)
    Golf cart accidents in Carolina Beach are less frequent than automobile accidents, but still happen (Photo courtesy of Carolina Beach)

    CAROLINA BEACH — With the popularity of golf carts on the rise in Carolina Beach, their future place on public roads is in question.

    With only 2.46 square miles and a population of just over 6,000, Carolina Beach has seen an increase in the number of golf carts over the past few years. As of June 27, the town had issued 814 permits for golf carts and slow-moving vehicles.

    In 2009, the state of North Carolina gave municipalities the power to create laws and regulations regarding golf cart use on local roads. The Town of Carolina Beach currently has only eight regulations regarding the use of golf carts.

    Owners of golf carts in town could be facing a new set of rules and regulations to account for the increasing number of carts, and to address safety concerns.

    In 2017, there have already been 18 violations issued to golf carts, half of those have been parking violations.

    What are the current rules?

    • Carts are only allowed on roads with speed limits under 35 miles per hour
    • Carts must have liability insurance
    • Drivers of carts must stay to the far-right side of the road and yield right of way to overtaking vehicles
    • Carts that operate before sunrise and after sunset must have headlights and reflectors for visibility
    • Carts must have a mirror to see behind the cart
    • No standing on the cart while in motion, and must have the appropriate amount of people the cart is designed to carry
    • The operator of the cart must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid permit or drivers permit
    • State laws regarding the use of alcoholic beverages apply to golf carts
    Carolina Beach officials discussed the need to regualte the amount of passengers allowed on golf carts (Photo courtesy of Carolina Beach)
    Carolina Beach officials discussed the need to regualte the amount of passengers allowed on golf carts (Photo courtesy of Carolina Beach)

    There are several issues the town has faced regarding golf carts in the past few years. They include carts not parking in proper spaces, safety concerns such as too many people on a single cart, and a lack of safety features on the carts.

    One of the problems when it comes to enforcing golf cart regulations is the lack of a VIN number on them – since the carts are not licensed by the state the only way to identify a cart is by the town registration sticker, Town Manager Michael Cramer said.

    Golf cart parking has become an increasing issue according to Cramer, and carts park in inappropriate place around the town, he said. In 2017, there have already been 18 violations issued to golf carts, half of those have been parking violations.

    What is being done?

    Below is a list of some of the regulations suggested by town officials – they are not currently in effect and will not be made into law until the Town Council approves them.

    • Require all golf carts to have seat belts – owners of older carts currently without seat belts could be given a few years to retrofit their vehicles to bring them up to standard
    • Clarification of the language regarding the requirements for lights on carts if operating during times of darkness
    • Child seat laws for regular vehicles could apply to golf carts as well
    • Clarify what is acceptable regarding maximum number of occupants per seat in a cart
    • Clarify the language regarding what streets carts are allowed to operate on and crossing of roads with speed limits more than 35 miles per hour

    The discussion on golf cart regulations is not over yet. Councilors on Tuesday directed town employees to consider solutions to some of the issues golf carts present. They are expected to report back to the Town Council at an upcoming meeting.


    Michael Praats can be contacted via email at michael.p@localvoicemedia.com or on Twitter @michael_praats

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