Follow legal, safety rules when operating golf carts on roadways

Ron Craig

        As the recent high temperatures and humidity of late clearly show, summer is in full swing. Along with the season comes an increase in the use of golf carts as personal transport vehicles on the roadways.
        There are both legal and safety issues to consider when riding a golf cart on a road.
        First, we will talk about the legal issues. Ohio Revised Code section 4501.01, subsection XX, defines a golf cart as a “low-speed motor vehicle.” When a golf cart is ridden on a public street or on private property that is generally used by the public, it must be properly licensed and equipped.
        Some cities and villages, including Millbury, also have ordinances regarding operation of golf carts.
        We will outline some of the required equipment in this article, but keep in mind that converting an ordinary golf cart used on a golf course can be costly. Law enforcement officials hear from citizens who own golf carts that they either can’t afford the upgrades or just don’t want to go through the hassle. It is, however, the job of law enforcement officers to make sure the laws are followed.
        Required equipment includes headlights, taillights, turn signals, adequate brakes, a windshield and windshield wiper, rear view mirrors, seat belts for all passengers, and, of course, valid license plates.
        All drivers must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid driver’s license. This means kids who don’t meet these requirements cannot operate a golf cart on the road. This is not only the law but a safety issue as well.
        Golf carts may not be driven on any public street with a speed limit of more than 35 miles per hour. There are several streets in our township with speed limits above this, including East Broadway in Moline, Woodville Road and South Street (SR 795) in Millbury. Almost all rural roads have a speed limit of 55 miles per hour, so riding a golf cart on these roads is also illegal.
        Getting license plates for a golf cart will require it to be inspected by law enforcement personnel. This service is offered for Lake Township residents by the township’s police department.
        Other items needed to obtain license plates include proof of ownership, such as a bill of sale, proof of insurance and a completed application for an Ohio motor vehicle title. Carts will also need to have a vehicle identification number (VIN) plate attached.
        You will notice I mentioned proof of insurance in the previous paragraph. Because a golf cart is considered in Ohio to be a motor vehicle, it should not be operated without insurance.
        Several years ago, when I worked for the Seneca County Sheriff’s Office, we had an injury crash involving a golf cart, and the cart operator was at fault. Because he did not have it properly licensed and insured, he had to pay out-of-pocket for all damages and medical bills associated with the crash.
        Safety is of utmost importance here. Just like all vehicles, no one should be operating a golf cart under the influence of alcohol or drugs. And, yes, golf cart operators can be charged with OMVI.
        All passengers should ride inside the golf cart, with no legs hanging out, and should be properly secured with a seat belt. Use turn signals so those behind you know your intentions, which could avoid a collision if that other driver attempts to pass you.
        In short, use common sense when operating a golf cart. It may not go as fast as other motor vehicles, but injuries can be just as serious.
        Lake Township residents may call the police department’s administrative line at 419-838-6651 to arrange for a golf cart inspection.
This article is a public service from the Crime Prevention Division of the Lake Township Police Department. Township residents may obtain further information on crime prevention and public safety topics by contacting Ron Craig, crime prevention specialist/community policing officer, at 419-481-6354.


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