ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Florida. – Last year, the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office said it responded to 21 accidents involving golf carts. Three people were so seriously injured they were incapacitated, and a 47-year-old man died when a golf cart ran over him.
Although inexperienced, young drivers were behind the wheel in six of these accidents, with the rest – 15 – involving adult drivers.
That’s why the sheriff’s office wants all of its residents to understand the risks.
There are three common mistakes made by golf cart drivers that lead to accidents.
Director Scott Beaver of the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office initially said no one thinks they can get hurt in a golf cart.
“They drive them a little more recklessly than with a regular car,” he said, often leading to accidents.
Second, he says, drivers underestimate speed.
Third, parents assume their 14-year-old is experienced enough to drive one.
Beaver said the sheriff’s office is working to change that by creating a county ordinance that would require a golf cart driver to be at least 15 years old. State law dictates that someone must be 14 or older to drive a golf cart.
“We want (age) to be the same thing you do to drive a vehicle,” Beaver explained. “There’s a reason you start driving at 15. You pass a driving test, you learn about speed limits, stop signs, yield signs and you also have to have someone who is an experienced driver sitting next to you for at least 50 hours.
As it stands, there are very few rules when operating a golf cart in the state. Beaver said no one is legally required to wear a seat belt while driving, there is no limit on the number of passengers and children are not required to be restrained.
“There are so many variables that lead to disaster and cause people to take things for granted, which ends up hurting or killing someone,” Beaver said.
He also said golf cart drivers often don’t know where they can drive one.
“People think that because it’s a county road you can automatically drive a golf cart there and that’s not true at all,” Beaver explained. “You also can’t drive a golf cart on ordinary sidewalk. The only two legal places to drive are a multi-cart road or a road that has been designated by the county as golf cart approved.
If you have questions about golf cart use and traffic laws, Beaver encourages you to call the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office at 904-824-8304.
Copyright 2022 by WJXT News4Jax – All Rights Reserved.