Driving and Sharing the Road with Golf Carts
By Diane M. Loeffler
If you have never attended one of Deputy Merry’s presentations, you are really missing a chance to learn a lot and to have your questions answered. Before the official presentation, the deputy tells everyone about recent events in the area and answers questions on a variety of topics. During the talks, Merry answers questions as they arise. He talks with individuals afterwards as well.
During the presentation, Dep. Merry talks about topics that have a direct impact on Sun City Center and Kings Point residents. There are four different places and times, so you can attend whatever time and day is the most convenient for you. On December 13, 35 individuals attended the morning talk on CA’s north campus.
The official topic in December was golf carts. Did you know that golf carts are pre-set for a maximum speed of 19.5 mph? If you modify your golf cart in a way that changes its maximum speed to 20-25 mph, your cart is now categorized as a ‘low speed vehicle’ and you must get a tag and registration from the DMV.
Golf carts cannot drive on any sidewalk unless it is specifically designated as a golf cart path such as the north side of Upper Creek Drive and the west side of Cortaro Drive where signs indicate that it is a golf cart path. Please note that bicycles are also allowed on those paths too. Carts have been seen driving on the sidewalk near Walgreens. If caught, offenders could be fined $168.
There is a $166 fine for driving a golf cart on public roads that are not specifically listed as exempted roads with Hillsborough County. An individual driving on a non-exempted road could face other fines and charges as well. Due to the increasing population, the county has announced that there will be no additional exemptions issued for public streets.
Florida law specifies that golf carts must obey traffic laws. Do not pass in a no passing zone. Signal whenever turning. If you do not have electric turn signals, indicate your intention to turn by giving the arm signals that are used by bicyclists. Come to a full and complete stop at stop signs and must obey all traffic signals. Do not drive on sidewalks. Do not make illegal U-turns.
Merry says, “If you are on public roads, you may only operate your golf cart in daylight hours. This is true even if you have real headlight and real flashing signals… Only individuals ages 14 or over may drive a golf cart on a public road. Golf carts must be equipped with efficient brakes, reliable steering, safe tires, rearview mirrors and red, reflectorized warning device on both the front and rear of the cart.”
As a courtesy, golf carts should keep to the right side of the road unless planning to make a left turn. In that case, the cart should be in the regular car lane so that the driver isn’t making a left turn across multiple lanes. Legally, golf carts are allowed in car lanes on public roads that have golf cart exemptions.
Cars must not park in golf cart places unless a sign specifically says that it is permitted. The only area with such a sign is along the gym. Even then, cars are allowed only after sunset. In all other places, a car in a cart space sticks out too far and would not permit for the safe passage of emergency vehicles. Merry says, “Motorcycles and scooters may park in golf cart parking places if the vehicle fits within the lines for the space with no overlap”
Golf carts may park in car parking places. When carts park in these spaces, they should park to the far edge of the space so that two carts can fit into one space. Merry says, “Golf carts may park in handicapped parking places. The placard goes with the person, not the vehicle. However, the placard must be displayed and carts should park two to a space.” An audience member voiced her concern that someone might steal her placard. Merry answered, “I would suggest that you tape it on your windshield with heavy packing tape. If you need a second placard for your car, go to the DMV and request one.”
Golf carts should be registered with the SCC Security Patrol. If you do not have a registration sticker with a number, there are registration dates twice a year or you may call the Security Patrol to request an appointment. The Security Patrol cart registration list is shared with police. If your cart were to be stolen, then it is more easily retrieved if it is registered. At the December 13 seminar, several individuals told about times when someone accidentally took a cart that looked similar to theirs. Thanks to the vehicles being registered, they were returned to their owners.
The keys of golf carts are often interchangeable. If you would like your cart to have a unique ignition and key, most golf cart dealers can do that for you.
Check this paper for future topics and presentation times. Deputy Merry always has something new to say, information that will keep you in compliance with the law and, most importantly, safe.