OAK ISLAND — Two golf cart crashes on Wednesday again raised concerns about low-speed vehicles on Oak Island roads.
Pennsylvania vacationer Ryan Wilson, 27, was driving on E. Oak Island Drive at 9:44 a.m. Wednesday when he lost control while turning onto Barbee Boulevard, flipping the cart on its side. The police report said it appeared Wilson was driving too fast as he approached the bend, but also said he was exceeding the 25-mile-per-hour speed limit during the incident.
Wilson was taken to New Hanover Regional Medical Center for non-life threatening injuries. Drugs and alcohol were not expected to be a contributing factor.
Another crash occurred the same day at 4:33 p.m. along SE 49th Street. The driver of the golf cart was underage, but Oak Island staff confirmed he had a valid driver’s license. While attempting to lift the truck’s windshield, the driver veered off the road, hitting a trash can and two mailboxes. The vehicle flipped onto its side after the driver overcorrected to get back on the road.
The minor was taken to Brunswick Novant Medical Center for non-life-threatening injuries.
According to reports, both vehicles belonged to local golf cart rental companies, suffered damage worth $1,000 each and had to be towed off the scene.
On Thursday, the Oak Island Police Department took to Facebook to update the public on the incidents and encourage safety measures to prevent low-speed vehicle crashes.
“‘It’s just a golf cart you REALLY don’t need a seat belt on,'” the department wrote in its post. “We sadly hear that often, but yesterday reminded us why that simply isn’t true.”
For low-speed vehicles or vehicles that can reach speeds over 20 miles per hour but not 40 miles per hour, seat belts are required by federal law to be street legal. Golf carts usually have to be redesigned with a different engine to achieve this capability. However, if they do not reach 20 miles per hour, Oak Island still stipulates that the golf cart must have seat belts and only drive on the roads as a device for drivers with reduced mobility.
City staff confirmed that both vehicles were equipped with all safety features required by regulation.
As noted in the post, the department has responded to 11 low-speed vehicle crashes over the past five years. Wednesday’s incidents bring that total to 13. The crashes come a month after the Oak Island City Council discussed putting in place new restrictions on low-speed vehicles to alleviate safety concerns. Council members considered banning devices on busy Oak Island Drive, where three of the 11 crashes occurred. Other options included reducing the speed limit on the road or banning carts from the road during the summer season, but no action was taken.
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