Proposed Golf Cart Changes

By / Letters to the Editor / Wednesday, 30 August 2017 04:00

The Carolina Beach Town council is about to proposed changes to Golf Cart use in our town.  This action is in response to a few loud voices, including a Gazette editorial, but is ridiculous and unrealistic based on facts:
Currently, there are 800 Golf Cart owners in Carolina Beach.
Under current ordinance:
All persons who operate or ride upon golf carts do so at their own risk and must be observant to the safety of themselves, their passengers, other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.
The Town of Carolina Beach has no liability for permitting carts to be operated in the town.  The owner and operator of the cart are responsible for any liability involved in using a cart. Carts must have liability insurance coverage.
Drivers of carts shall stay to the far right of the road and yield the right-of-way to overtaking motor vehicles.
Cart operating between one half hour before sunrise and one-half hour after sunset shall be equipped with and have in use headlights and reflectors located on the rear of the cart.
Carts shall have at least one operational mirror allowing the operator to see behind the cart.
No one is allowed to stand on the cart while it is in operation and may only have the appropriate number of passengers that it is designed to carry.
The operator of the golf cart must possess a valid driver’s license or must have a driver's permit and be accompanied by a licensed driver.
On town property or public right of ways, golf carts are only allowed to park in designated parking spaces. Golf carts parked outside of these designated areas are subject to parking penalty fees or removal by tow.
North Carolina laws as found G.S. § 20-138, regarding use of alcoholic beverages apply to golf cart regulation in the Town of Carolina Beach.
The Gazette editorial stated: Short of stopping every single cart every month, there's no way for police to be sure a cart owner still has an active insurance policy.”  This is incorrect: a current town golf cart decal indicates the cart is covered by insurance.
Golf Carts are prohibited on Dow Road, and allowed on Lake Park Blvd but not North of CVS.
SAFETY:
To my knowledge there are have been about 8 accidents involving golf Carts in the last few years.  There was one highly publicized incident of an overturned golf cart, with no injuries.
In contrast:
How many motor vehicle accidents during the same period?  Bet it’s a lot more than 8.
How many golf carts have been cited (or even observed) speeding?
How many golf carts have hit utility poles? Bicycles?  Pedestrians? Another Golf cart?
Yes, I own a golf cart and have for the last 5 years.  I purchased it when gas was about $4 a gallon.  Even now, at $2 a gallon my electric cart is Green and does not pollute.  I have the appropriate mirrors, head lights and tail lights for night driving.  I do not have seatbelts, but have no problem in installing them.  The seat belt  proposal makes sense.
My problem is the proposed ordinance to ban Golf Carts in 2020 in favor of street legal low speed vehicles.  To what real purpose other than add additional cost to upgrade my cart?  A 6-mph speed increase to a maximum of 25 mph?  Will having a VIN # and NC registration and license plate increase safety?   It should be noted the state requires that windshield wipers can be hand operated.  Really useful in one of our downpours.  Most cart owners that I know prefer not to take their cart out in rainy weather.
Based on the very low number of accidents/golf cart injuries safety is not the real issue.  It seems that the real problem is there are a few vocal residents who are in a rush and find golf carts annoying.  As a reminder Bicycles on Lake Park Blvd go a lot slower than golf carts.  Carolina Beach has 800+ happy golf cart owners and the number is growing.   It is unnecessary to upgrade a golf cart to street legal for a safety problem that does not exist.  I would urge the Council and the Gazette to view this issue realistically and add the seat belt requirement as well as enforce the requirements of the current rules.  These rules as listed above already require appropriate mirrors, lighting and insurance.
Bob Gottesman,
Carolina Beach, NC

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Carolina Beach North Carolina

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