Golf carts are more common now on Treasure Coast roadways, and so are accidents and injuries.
Throughout the Treasure Coast, people are driving golf carts off the green and along public roads. Golf carts are a cheap, more energy-efficient method for cruising around town. And in South Florida, where there’s beautiful weather year-round and miles of coastline, golf carts are an even bigger draw—especially among retirement communities and golf course developments.
However, is it safe, let alone legal to drive a golf cart on the street? The answer is tricky. Golf carts don’t have the safety features of a car. They also go much slower, which can cause dangerous situations in high-traffic areas. In 2017, the Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated 17,800 injuries treated in the emergency room were associated with the use of golf carts. Still, in Florida, you can drive golf carts on certain public roads under certain conditions. It depends on the type of golf cart, as well as community ordinances.
What counts as a golf cart?
Florida considers golf carts to be vehicles incapable of exceeding 20 mph. Regular golf carts can be operated by anyone over the age of 14 on a public road where the posted speed limit is under 25 mph. If the golf cart can exceed 20 mph, it is defined as a low-speed vehicle (LSV). LSVs are four-wheeled electric vehicles whose top speeds are greater than 20 mph but less than 25 mph. The law requires LSVs to be equipped with seat belts, headlamps, turn signals, parking brakes, rearview mirrors, and vehicle identification numbers. These types of carts must also be insured. If you do all this, your cart is legal for a licensed driver to operate day and night on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.
Dangers of driving golf carts on public roads
Golf carts offer quick and easy transportation around town, but they can be extremely dangerous. Here’s why:
- Operators don’t have to have a valid driver’s license to drive on a public road. This means children as young as 14 can legally drive a golf cart.
- Golf carts provide little protection in the event of an accident. By necessity, golf carts are designed to allow easy boarding and exiting, with no doors, windows, or seatbelts. Over 40% of golf cart accidents involve a person being ejected or falling out.
- Alcohol is often a factor. A study in Georgia found that 59% of golf cart accidents involved driving while under the influence.
- Maintenance is often irregular. Golf carts are often viewed as recreational vehicles and not subjected to proper maintenance to detect potential safety hazards.
- Modifications, such as larger wheels, faster speeds, and audio systems, can tempt operators to drive faster than permitted in a distracted environment.
If you’re driving a golf cart on a public road, keep yourself and others safe by following the laws of the road and being aware of the traffic and drivers around you. If you’re sharing the roadway with a golf cart, keep a safe distance and be alert for decisions being made by the golf cart driver.
Treasure Coast golf cart accidents
Hoskins, Turco, Lloyd & Lloyd is an established Treasure Coast law firm with decades of experience representing clients whose lives have been changed due to car accidents and personal injuries. Led by Board Certified Civil Trial Attorney, Steve Hoskins, the firm has the expertise and resources to settle even the most complex cases. For golf cart related accidents along the Treasure Coast contact us online or call us at 866-460-1990.