Hattiesburg officials draft golf cart ordinance

City of Hattiesburg officials drafted a draft ordinance that would regulate the use of golf carts in the city, including where these vehicles can be used and basic safety standards, about a month later. pitching the idea at a recent Hattiesburg City Council meeting.

The proposed ordinance, which is the brainchild of council chairman Jeffrey George and Hunter White — who serves as the city’s engineering project manager — was presented at the council’s Aug. 1 business session.

“(It) outlines a number of things that have to go into said ordinance, and that other cities in our state are doing, in terms of golf cart ordinances,” George said. “We said that we would present (to the council) a draft of this order, and therefore in order to respect this timetable in a way (we are doing it now).

“Also bearing in mind that it is high time to use golf carts with the football season and things like that, we wanted to go ahead and present a draft ordinance, knowing that it there are still a few loose ends to work out and a few conversations to have.

Prior to the 2021 session of the Mississippi Legislature, the use of golf carts and similar “low-speed vehicles” on public roads was illegal statewide. But during this session, lawmakers passed Senate Bill 2605, which allowed cities and towns to pass ordinances to legally allow vehicles on certain streets.

However, until a municipality passes an ordinance of this measure, the use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles on public roads remains illegal. So far, eight other municipalities in the state have passed similar ordinances.

“State law really doesn’t allow a lot of flexibility in this ordinance, except for streets where golf carts are allowed,” George told council members. “We discussed at our last business session where streets with a speed limit of 30 miles per hour or less — also taking into account any right of way (Mississippi Department of Transportation) — would be off-limits to golf carts.

“So I ask that you review this, and provide your feedback to me or Hunter as soon as possible, as I would like to bring a final version for your consideration at our next meeting.”

The proposed ordinance, among other measures, defines “golf cart” as a motor vehicle that is designed and manufactured to operate on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes; is not able to exceed a speed of 20 miles per hour; and is equipped with safety equipment as required by Mississippi law. It also defines “low-speed vehicles” as any four-wheeled electric or gasoline-powered vehicle that has a top speed of more than 20 miles per hour but less than 25 miles per hour and is equipped with the aforementioned security.

The ordinance would also require these vehicles to be registered with the city clerk’s office, who would be responsible for this registration and issuing a registration sticker to be affixed to the vehicles. Perhaps one of the ordinance’s most notable measures is that it would require anyone driving a golf cart or low-speed vehicle to be a licensed driver in the state of Mississippi.

“Safety is our top priority,” George said when the order was first discussed. “Golf cart use in Hattiesburg has become more common, and you see it a lot downtown, especially during football and baseball season with people going to (sporting events).

“So we really focused on everyone’s safety, and so (that’s us) putting in place guidelines on ‘here’s the things you need to have on your golf cart and here’s the streets you’re on authorized to operate them. Also, the general requirement that you have to be a licensed driver to drive one of these vehicles – those are kind of the goals we have.

According to the ordinance, additional roads and streets where the use of golf carts and low-speed vehicles are prohibited will be determined by the city’s traffic committee. Decisions will be made based on the average number of daily traffic, recommendations from government authorities and public safety stakeholders, road or street design, and any additional influencing factors needed.

“This ordinance is passed in the interest of public safety,” the ordinance reads. “Golf carts and low-speed vehicles are not designed or manufactured for use on public roads and streets.

“The City of Hattiesburg, by regulating the operation of golf carts and low-speed vehicles, addresses obvious safety concerns, and the passage of this ordinance should not be relied upon to determine that operation on highways and public streets is safe and/or advised if done in accordance with this ordinance. Persons who drive or use golf carts and low-speed vehicles on public roads and streets do so at their own risk and should exercise care and attention for their safety and the safety of others, including their passengers, other motorists, cyclists and pedestrians. ”