Last Saturday, a rented golf cart was involved in a marginal incident. The cart sideswiped a car and then left the scene. The accident involved the usual suspects: alcohol, a wild, drunken-ass person, a golf cart, and a car (or truck). The cart driver, Michael Belton of Richmond was arrested for DUI and refusing to take an Intoxalyzer test. Mr. Belton was taken to the county joint Saturday night where, unfortunately for him, the county magistrate does not work weekends. Mr. Belton had to cool his heels in the multi-million dollar county jail over the weekend while awaiting arraignment on the alleged charges.
While the incident was minor, just a busted-up cart and some superficial damage to the automobile, it serves to highlight the implications of allowing golf carts to interact with local, and in many cases, tourist traffic.
Jessica Cicchino, a vice president at the highway safety institute, doesn’t think golf carts should be permitted on roads with cars, “If they get hit by a much larger vehicle, they aren’t going to hold up.”
Cicchino said her group did a crash test in 2010 between an LSV and a Smart car. The driver in the LSV would have suffered serious or fatal injuries, she said. A driver in a regular golf cart would likely be even more at risk.
“They are not crashworthy,” Cicchino said. “An truck or SUV can weigh three or four times as much as a golf cart or an LSV.”
The majority of golf cart accidents or fatalities involve driver negligence, distraction, or drug or alcohol abuse…that goes for the golf cart driver as well. That is just what we are seeing in Cape Charles.
People are on vacation, and while the golf cart may be fun, most have no idea what’s involved, and treat it like a joy ride, and don’t even bother to follow the rules of the road. Or bother to be sober. New cart riders have a false sense of security, and while having fun cruising around, they don’t seem to be paying attention to vehicular traffic. Drivers of larger vehicles are also distracted, and may not be used to driving in a small town with so many blind spots, and have never had to share the road with a golf cart.
Add sun exposure and alcohol and you have recipe for disaster.
Many have already had close calls with carts. It’s just a matter of time before we record a fatality. The town’s lukewarm response to the danger is to increase fines, however, a punitive approach will do little to prevent a major accident. Writing a $250 dollar ticket to a cart driver that runs a stop sign and winds up tangled and mutilated under an F-250 seems like a futile, check-the-box response.
Let’s face facts. The Cape Charles of today is not the same town it was 25 years ago when it voted to allow carts on the road. Not that many people lived or came here. Back then, there were maybe ten carts in the whole town, and just not that much traffic.
Now, the town is full, people are crowding the streets, and cars are whizzing all around. Golf carts do not fit safely into the mix anymore. Golf carts on the roads are becoming more and more ubiquitous in many communities, but so are injuries and deaths from accidents.
Some think it’s charming to have carts zipping around, and it may even be a teaser to bring folks here to vacation. But the reality is that golf carts belong on the golf course, not mixing in traffic with trucks and cars.
It’s time to ban golf carts and get them off the street. There will be some moaning, wailing, and gnashing of teeth from people that have purchased golf carts and chalk it up as a perk of living in this town.
Some businesses may also be hurt, but if it saves just one life…well, you know the rest.
Just as the town did nothing about beach safety until a few kids drowned, it appears to be taking the same laissez-faire approach to golf carts. If the town does nothing, and a person dies, then the mayor and town council will have some explaining to do.
Is stuffing the greasy till worth it?
Peter Simpson says
There has not been one major accident in all the years the golf carts have been allowed in town. No serious injuries either. Sounds like you want to do this like we do everything in the 2020s – OUT OF AN ABUNDANCE OF CAUTION!! How do you see that it’s appropriate that we suddenly ban them from Cape Charles.??!
Note: Famous last words from the Captain of the Titanic.
A Friend says
Well said Peter!
Mishandling, negligent/impaired drivers, and crashes are exceptions of the golf cart driver experience in Cape Charles. Responsible drivers are the overwhelming majority. So, should laws/regulations be enacted based on the majority experience, or based on the very small minority who abuse the privilege of operating a golf cart? Just enforce the laws on the books and increase the fines/penalties to reduce/curtail golf cart abuse in town.
Btw Wayne, you seem to have gotten a bit of a nasty streak over the last few months based on your “Notes” to those with whom you disagree.
Note: I thought I was going easy on you morons.
Paul Plante says
Laws and regulations are never intended for those who are law-abiding and obey common sense rules, they are made for the idiots who always **** things up for everybody else who isn’t a ******* moron.
Morons. Hmmm. Do you think people will warm up to tour views given your rude and caustic demeanor? They won’t. There certainly is a moron in your midst. Might wanna look a little closer sport.
Note: Of course they will. And, if you had any wit or sense of humor, you would have said, “Might want to take a look in the Mirror, sport.” But you don’t. You can go away now.
Paul Plante says
It is so fun here at the Cape Charles Mirror as the liberals among us are wont to say.
As to rude and caustic comments, how about that soup Nazi dude on Seinfeld https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=euLQOQNVzgY
Dude makes Wayne seem mild-mannered by comparison, and that dude was packing them in and making a good buck doing so.
In 2017 I witnessed a bad golf cart accident involving teenagers with too many passengers on the golf cart. The cart tipped over and landed on one of the teen’s feet resulting in a very serious and deep cut to her ankle. There was blood everywhere on the concrete. The other teen suffered an injury to her arm but she played it off, although I could see the obvious swelling. The kids were unsure whether to call an ambulance because they were afraid of getting into trouble with the police for not having a driver’s license. I told them if they did not call then I would. Paramedics came and took the girl with the badly cut foot to the hospital. So yes, there has been at least one serious golf cart accident that I witnessed first hand in the Cape Charles area, but I never saw it reported or mentioned in the local news. That girl was very lucky she did not have her foot cut off that day.
Kathleen Kurgan says
Thank you Jill for that comment. I have to add a similar story that was not reported to the public involving a young unlicensed girl driving a golf cart in Bay Creek on the golf side. She was driving too fast and turned the cart over on its side and broke her wrist. She was also very lucky that was all. This incident was relayed by the Cape Charles police to Bay Creek residents who were friends of the officer. I am sure these are not the only two incidents that have occurred in the past.
Pedro Gonzalez says
For completeness, does anyone have stories/statistics on all of the walking/running injuries that have occurred in Cape Charles, as well as the cycling injuries? How about the drunk injuries that occur to the people with nothing better to do along Mason Ave?
Paul Plante says
How many walking accidents have there been caused by people gazing intently into the palm pf their hand as opposed to paying attention to where it is they are at in real time?
I recall one woman walking gazing at her cell phone and stepped off a curb and fell flat on her face in the pavement which didn’t do her face all that much good.
Kathleen Kurgan says
Thank you for writing this Wayne, this is so true that your predictions will become reality. In Bay Creek it is even more dangerous. Parents allow their children, some who appear to be as young as 5 or 6 years old, to drive the carts all over the villages by themselves. Then there are incidents of multiple children joyriding on different carts together. It goes on and on and the parents who are renting homes here and using the home owners carts get angry when you tell them their children need a drivers license to drive a cart. They ignore that and just continue on letting the little ones drive a big cart by themselves everywhere. Meanwhile the homeowners who are renting their property are not considering their liability should something happen.
Kathleen Kurgan says
Featured snippet from the web
“In the state of Virginia, an individual must be 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license with them in order to operate a cart. They can be driven between sunrise and sunset, but no operation at night. Drinking while driving is a dangerous, illegal activity and this is still true when driving a golf cart.Aug 29, 2019 ”
I am not saying to stop the golf carts I think they are great. I am not sure that all people realize that they are under Virginia’s motorized vehicle laws in the entire town of Cape Charles including Bay Creek.
Jane McKinley says
Let me moan, wail, and knash my teeth! Having golf carts in town is a charming “perk” and those of us who drive them sensibly should not be denied the priviledge of driving/owning one just because of some occasional drunk, sunburnt, or generally irresponsible tourist. I say KEEP THE CARTS!
And, of course, enforce the speed limits which has some room for improvement. Maybe put up signs to remind people to “Heed the Carts.”
Note: Oh, yeah, a sign, that’ll do it. Maybe take up golf, and you can drive them all you want…where they were designed to be driven.
Douglas Luther says
Yet, you want to restrict my 2nd amendment rights because of a few bad apples.
There is a place and a time for golf carts and it is not a public street, that are now crowded with tourist.
Yet here we are.
Here here’s an idea, make the police of Cape Charles enforce the law and quit giving warnings! Oh that’s right, police can’t do their job because the town council doesn’t want to discouraged the tourist from enjoying themselves. You know because they spend a lot of money here.
Blue Hoss says
Why are Golf Carts being driven anywhere but a Golf Course?
Mrs. Lee Turner says
Why do you wish to drive a golf cart on state/county roads? Are you that much of a golf fan? Like a little Tiger Woods, do you? Saw it in another vacation town and thought it was ‘neat’? Handi-capped? Feet sore? Can’t ride a bike? Don’t like to drive the automobiles you paid too much for? Wish to spend a week or two’s pay or retirement, every so often on huge batteries?
Oh Yeah, It is Charming? Yeah, I bet it is.
Publius Americanus says
Ok, if y’all are gonna poke at Wayne, here’s how to do so:
Wayne, have you met Mrs. Lee? She too feels that banning things because:
Some people abuse things
Sniff, sniff…why, not my thing, dahliing….so all must cease…..
Is the appropriate action-done via Government Force by Gun- in a Representational Republic.
Odd how the Marxist and the Aristocratic types meet at the oddest of intersections, inn’t it?
Wink, wink Wayne…..keep cranking out the words, we love the intellectual intercourse if not all the ‘accoutrements’ that litter the floor of your literary boudoir.
You whacko, you.
Note: Better wacko than Waco I always say 🙂
Colleen Makin says
Has Cape Charles ever considered one way streets for safety purposes? You have large trucks, cars pulling boats and cars parked on both sides of the streets. Makes it difficult sometimes. Also may make it safer for Golf carts
Great idea! Should definitely be considered before completely banning carts.
Grumpy old man says
Golf carts are used by summer people. Summer people spend money. Money is good thus summer people are good. You do not think they would take golf carts away from summer people?
Note: Agreed, I know, I know. The Cape Charles motto, “It’s all about the money.” Kinda why the town is so gross now. It used to be nice until, well, you know.
What is gross about it?
Blue Hoss says
Funk Summer People….“No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Ken Leland says
How ridiculous to ban golf carts on the streets Cape Charles. There will always be a few jerks who abuse the law while driving a golf cart, a car or bicycle in every town in the U.S.A. and yes there will be a few accidents. Instead of panicking and taking golf carts off the streets of Cape Charles and shutting down a family business why not use a sensible approach and let the town council and members of the police Department make a list of do’s and don’ts while driving a golf cart on the streets of Cape Charles and give every person who drives a golf cart in town a copy, then let the police department do their job.
If you aren’t comfortable or just don’t like the golf carts, go somewhere else. 99.5% of the drivers are responsible, mature drivers…not wild, alcohol induced crazy people. Being a home owner for over 20 years I have NEVER seen a golf cart accident or fatality. And I think our multi million dollar jail is perfect!
Solution is very simple. If you don’t like it, don’t go there. Leave the wonderful good life to the people who love Cape Charles.
Note: When one of you idiots kills someone, you’ll get a nice taste of the county joint. They will bury you, and then the lawyers will get a taste, but it won’t bring back the dead.
Daniel Burke says
Yeah…and how about those crazy fools riding bicycles all over, especially up and down Stone Rd. Sooner or later one of them is gonna get killed. I say ban bikes…and oh yeah ban skateboards too while we’re banning stuff!
Stirring the shit Wayne?
I guess you will apply the same rules to gun controll as you would golf cart use?
Maybe tighter laws when it comes to golf cart rentals (and guns) should be step 1?? DUI or wreckless driving carts should add points on license? Arrests of parents letting their underage kids drive? Other thoughts?
Tightening up of laws for Cape Charles golf carts should be a first step as opposed to banning them completely.
Note: If you’re too stupid to not see the safety issue, I can’t help. Of course, you incoherent morons will always try and conflate disparate issues. And ‘reckless’ does not have a ‘w’ in it…you were probably thinking of ‘wreck’, you know, like a wreck involving a truck and golf cart.
I. M. Cartman says
Raise the fines to $1000 and add 2 days of jail time for each infraction. Also charge the landlord $1000 who rents to anyone breaking the law. Maybe people will think twice about their behavior when there are real consequences.
MY 2 Cents Worth says
How ironic to read this article today and actually drive into a FOOL in the Vaucluse Shores neighborhood in Machipongo this evening. Its NOT just a Cape Charles issue. The individual (at least 30 years old) actually had a tiny dog tied to the cart and just stopped in the middle of the road for at least a minute, I patiently waited behind him, as He had NO T A CLUE I was waiting, or wondering abt the poor dog. Best part, his license plate “Route 66”?? The only thing that saved him and the pup is that we have a 20 mph limit. Listen, I get it. Some people are on vacation and the guests nag and borrow the grandparents carts for wild rides here. The driver today was NOT a kid and simply CLEARLY was just in another twilight zone. episode. It WILL most likely take a death before anything changes re: Golf Cart bylaws on the shore. They are NOT “Power Wheel ” toys!
Bruce Gittinger says
This is the worst string of logic that I have read in a world of poor logic. If saving lives is your goal we should ban automobiles and trucks not golf carts. Then again maybe we should lock everyone in cages like in a zoo for their own good. Someone dig up the comparative stats on vehicular incidents in the town limits. Then we might have something to discuss.
Note: Logic you say? I think you just supported my point.
Pedro Gonzalez says
Golf carts don’t kill people.
People kill people.
Pedro Gonzalez says
Seriously though Wayne shouldn’t we address the mental health problems in this country instead of the golf carts?
Note: But isn’t owning and driving a golf cart on the street a top indicator of a mental health problem?
Blue Hoss says
Serious though Pedro shouldn’t we start using bullets to repel the invasion of Illegal Aliens that are slithering across out southern border, attaching themselves to Our Country like ticks and leaches, then having babies like a puppy mill.
pedro gonzalez says
As Jesus taught, yes we should.
Paul Plante says
Heh heh heh heh heh!
Friends Of WC United says
Why not just ban cars and trucks? Or maybe just ban them for all those that don’t live here?
This is very charming in the European towns that do this.
Sorin Varzaru says
Ha, never thought i would agree with you but here we are…
Why don’t we worry more about the terrible parking on Mason Ave where there truly is a traffic hazard? What happened to that money anyway? You can’t even see around the big trucks and SUV vehicles sticking out in the roadway. Maybe we should ban any parking downtown on weekends and holidays? Golf carts only so pedestrians and carts can be seen better……. hmmmm
Suzanne Hallberg says
Studies show that one-way streets do not make streets safer. Cars tend to go faster on one way streets.
Fix the parking on Mason Ave.
Virginia Gentleman says
It is most apparent from the article and the picture of the parked (damaged) car that the Golf Cart driver was smoking a menthol cigarette and was heavy enough to have pushed the car out of the precise angled parking space into the adjoining space. Magistrates are obviously a guarded job with excellent fringe benefits. Justice delayed is justice denied. Thankfully Cape Charles was spared any public street demonstrations or riots.
Note: A most excellent and erudite point as only a true Virginia Gentlemen could offer. Thank you for your service, sir. We salute you.