OAK ISLAND — Two golf cart crashes Wednesday again raised concerns over low-speed vehicles on Oak Island’s roadways.
A vacationer from Pennsylvania, Ryan Wilson, 27, was driving on E. Oak Island Drive at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday when he lost control while turning onto Barbee Boulevard, flipping the cart onto its side. The police report stated it appeared Wilson was driving too fast when approaching the turn, but also indicates he was going the 25-miles-per-hour speed limit during the incident.
Wilson was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. Drugs and alcohol were not expected to be a contributing factor.
Another accident occurred the same day at 4:33 p.m. along SE 49th Street. The golf cart’s driver was a minor, but Oak Island staff confirmed they had a valid driver’s license. While attempting to raise the cart’s windshield, the driver ran off the road, striking a trash can and two mailboxes. The vehicle flipped onto its side after the driver overcorrected back onto the roadway.
The minor was taken to Brunswick Novant Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries.
According to the reports, both vehicles were owned by local golf cart rental companies, sustained $1,000 worth of damage each and had to be towed from the scene.
On Thursday, Oak Island Police Department took to Facebook to notify the public of the incidents and encourage safety measures to prevent low-speed-vehicle accidents.
“‘It’s just a golf cart you don’t REALLY need a seatbelt,”’ the department wrote in its post. “We unfortunately hear that a lot, but yesterday was a good reminder of why that’s simply not true.”
For low-speed vehicles, or vehicles that can attain speeds over 20 miles per hour but not 40 miles per hour, seatbelts are required by federal law in order to be street legal. Golf carts typically have to be redesigned with a different motor to reach that capacity. However, if they don’t reach 20 miles per hour, Oak Island still stipulates the golf cart must have seatbelts and only drive on roads as a device for drivers with mobility issues.
Town staff confirmed that both vehicles were equipped with all safety features required by regulation.
As stated in the post, the department has responded to 11 low-speed-vehicle accidents in the last five years. Wednesday’s incidents bring that total up to 13. The crashes come a month after the Oak Island Town Council discussed putting further restrictions on low-speed vehicles to mitigate safety concerns. Council members considered banning the devices on the busy Oak Island Drive, where three of the 11 accidents occurred. Other options included reducing the speed limit on the road or barring the carts on the road during the summer season, but no action was taken.
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