I guess it makes sense to drive a small electric vehicle for local trips, but golf carts seem somewhat less practical than a bicycle, which is smaller and easier to store, or a scooter which can go much faster on more roads.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see golf carts on the rise though, especially in planned golf course or retirement communities. I remember a story a few years ago about some guy at Buckeye Lake fighting for the right to use his golf cart on the neighborhood streets and this article says that a resort on South Bass Island is renting golf carts for free on Sunday nights. I was also looking at Google Streetview for Clebration, Florida a few weeks ago and noticed that there were several golf carts parked in the business districts.
Proceed with caution
Research suggests golf carts more dangerous than meets the eye
By MICHELLE GEORGE
The Eagle-Gazette Staff
FAIRFIELD COUNTY – They are small, sporty and – in times of high gas prices – becoming a more cost-efficient and popular mode of transportation.
But research from two new studies shows traveling by golf cart might not be the safest way to navigate the roads in your community.
The research – compiled through studies from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus and the University of Alabama at Birmingham – reveals nearly 50,000 people were hurt in accidents involving golf carts during a four-year period.
About half of the injuries occurred on golf courses or in other sports venues, according to the reports results. The other half were on streets or residential property.
Brenda Ruff, owner of Eagle Golf Carts in Lancaster, is surprised by the statistics.
“We haven’t had any incidents that I know of,” said Ruff, whose business sells roadway-safe golf carts. “The only way an accident probably could happen is if someone was riding them stupidly.”
Canal Winchester is the only village or municipality in Fairfield County that allows residents to legally drive golf carts on roads with a speed limit of 25 mph or less.
And the Fairfield County Sheriff’s Office recently deployed a golf cart to Bremen for deputies to use in the village.
“If they are made to be street-ready and are handled by a licensed driver, I don’t see how they could be more dangerous than a car,” said Fairfield County Sheriff Dave Phalen. “They’re safer than riding a bicycle.”
Under Ohio law, golf carts are allowed on the roadways if they are inspected by local law enforcement and approved through some form of ordinance, said Nanisa Osborn, finance director of Canal Winchester.
Once a law enforcement entity inspects the golf cart, drivers must take an inspection sheet and bill of sale to a title office to obtain a title.
Next, the title has to be taken to the department of motor vehicles for registration and tags.
The Canal Winchester Village Council approved legislation in August governing use of golf cart drivers in the village.
“People wanted to be able to operate their carts on the roadways,” said Osborn, who said the Sheriff’s Office has issued 12 golf cart permits in the village since the legislation was approved. “And we haven’t had any incidents since.”
Village Council member John Bender agreed.
“Some people came to us when we were looking into the legislation and said they thought it was dangerous, but most of it was a lot to do about nothing,” Bender said.
Ruff said the golf carts her business sells are required to have all the safety devices of a car, can only be operated by a licensed driver and can only drive on roads where the speed limit is less than 35 mph.
Golf carts have 12 safety requirements they must meet, including possession of two brake lights, a working horn and a rear view mirror.
“They have to be made street-ready and have turn signals and all that before they can hit the roads,” Phalen said.
Ruff doesn’t think people should worry about golf carts being unsafe.
“We are working to make golf cart transportation safe here in Fairfield County, and there’s certainly nothing wrong with using them to go to the store or post office or to get ice cream,” Ruff said.
(The Associated Press contributed to this story.)