According to statistics compiled by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission, each year, about 13,000 golf cart-related accidents require emergency room visits, and that number is rising as the economical, fun-to-drive carts become more popular on city streets .
Of those accidents, about 40 percent involve children younger than 16.
At Thursday’s Town Council meeting, a frustrated Tammy Holloway admonished the rest of council for not dealing with the growing safety problems golf carts pose for Cape Charles.
“They are all through the park now. The are tearing it up, and posing a real safety problem. We have small children and bicyclists on the sidewalk, and the carts come speeding in. And they are flying, going fast. It’s just a matter of time before we have serious injuries,” Holloway said.
Most of the problem has to do with tourists who, by no fault of their own, are not aware of the laws regulating cart use in town. Holloway recommends making placards that could be placed in each rental home highlighting how and how not use golf carts on the street.
One of the biggest problems is allowing small children to drive golf carts. You must have a valid driver’s license to legally operate a golf cart.
Golf carts are also not allowed in Central Park.
By ordinance, the Town of Cape Charles sets the following requirements for operation:
In addition to any safety equipment required by the Code of Virginia for golf carts, the following must be installed:
1. Speed governor if gasoline powered.
2. Safety lap belts
Every golf cart and driver shall be covered by an insurance policy. The policy must meet the minimum liability amounts as indicated by the Code of Virginia and provide coverage during the operation of the golf cart upon public streets.
Local Vehicle License:
No golf cart shall be used on the public roads unless it has obtained a Cape Charles Vehicle License. No vehicle license shall be issued until the owner of the golf cart presents evidence that the golf cart is insured and inspected.
Town Safety Inspection
Golf carts shall pass a safety inspection at least once yearly. The inspection must be conducted by an official inspection station or by a business which is engaged in the sale of golf carts. The inspection shall only cover the following:
1. Headlights, tail lights and turn signals, if the golf cart is driven between sunset and sunrise.
2. Rubber or equivalent tires.
3. Windshield wipers if equipped with permanent windshield.
4. Horn, adequate steering gear, brakes, emergency or parking brake, one mirror, adequately fixed driver’s seat.
5. All other factory installed safety or mechanical systems, including checking for gasoline or propane leaks.
6. Speed governor if gasoline powered.
7. Safety lap belts.
Operation on Public Highways:
It is unlawful to operate a golf cart on a public highway within the Town of Cape Charles unless the following requirements are met.
1. Golf carts may be operated on the highways of the Town of Cape Charles that allow a maximum speed of 25 m.p.h.
2. Golf carts must display a slow-moving vehicle emblem in conformity with § 46.2-1081 of the Code of Virginia (1950) as amended.
3. Golf carts shall be operated only between sunrise and sunset unless equipped with such light as are required in Article 3 of Chapter 10 of Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia (1950) as amended.
4. No person may operate a golf cart unless that person is licensed to drive upon highways of the Commonwealth of Virginia and then, only in accordance with such driver’s license.
5. Golf carts must be operated in accordance with all applicable state and local laws and ordinances, including all laws, regulations and ordinances pertaining to the possession and use of alcoholic beverages.
6. Only the number of people the golf cart is designed to seat may ride on a golf cart. Additionally, passengers shall not be carried on the part of a golf cart designed to carry golf bags.
7. Golf carts must be operated to the extreme right of the roadway and must yield to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
8. Golf carts may be operated in bicycle lanes provided they do not impede bicycle traffic.
9. Golf carts shall not be operated during inclement weather; nor when visibility is impaired by weather, smoke, fog or other conditions.
10. The chief of police, or his designee, may prohibit the operation of golf carts on any highway if the chief determines that the prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
Golf carts are not designed or manufactured to be used on the public streets, and the Town of Cape Charles in no way advocates or endorses their operation on public streets or roads. The Town of Cape Charles “assumes” no liability for permitting golf carts to be operated on public streets and roads under special legislation granted by the Virginia General Assembly. The Town of Cape Charles, by regulating such operation is merely trying to address obvious safety issues, and adoption of or advisable if done in accordance with the chapter. All persons who operate or ride upon golf carts upon public streets or roads do so at their own risk and peril, and must be observant of bicyclists and pedestrians. Any person who operates a golf cart is responsible for procuring liability insurance sufficient to cover the risk involved in using a golf cart on the public streets and roads.