The golf carts were only used to facilitate movement on the greens during a round of golf. Today, these models can vary in size and style and are often modified to show the driver’s sense of style. They have become a commonly accepted mode of transportation, no longer restricted to the confines of a country club.
Drive through any campground or senior residential area and you’ll be sure to see plenty of golf carts. This may cause you to wonder if golf carts are considered motor vehicles that must follow state road rules. We’ll take a look.
What is the legal definition of a motor vehicle?
According American legala motor vehicle is defined as a “self-propelled machine designed for the transport of persons or goods on public roads”. Cornell Law School stipulates that several criteria must exist for a transport device to be considered a motor vehicle.
First, it must have the ability to go faster than 25 mph on paved surfaces. It must not have “characteristics which make its use on a street or highway dangerous, impractical or highly improbable”. If it is not of ordinary size or contains features associated with military combat, it is not considered a motor vehicle.
Additionally, a motor vehicle must have safety features, as required by local, state, or federal laws, to drive on public roads.
State laws vary regarding the use of golf carts
According Driving laws, a golf cart is specifically designed to operate on a golf course and is intended for recreational purposes and the transportation of golf equipment. Most golf carts can only carry two people and have a maximum curb weight of 1,300 pounds.
Common restrictions include not exceeding 20 mph with at least three wheels remaining in contact with the ground. Some states fluctuate on the speed limit ranging from 15 to 35 mph with a maximum occupancy of six passengers and a curb weight limit of no more than 1,800 pounds.
Driving laws state that most states that allow golf carts to be driven on public roads require vehicle registration, a valid driver’s license, and proof of liability insurance. Although restrictions vary from state to state, the most common rules include limiting use to roads with a posted speed limit of 25 to 45 mph. Most states limit use to drivers under 14 and often restrict use to daylight hours.
According Driving laws“Anyone driving a golf cart must also obey the rules of the road that apply to all motor vehicles – including laws that prohibit driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.”
The website Golf carts states, “Almost all golf carts that are used legally on the streets have been customized in some way to make them street legal. Each jurisdiction will have different rules and regulations, but at their core they still resemble the same golf carts found at the local country club.
Golf cart accidents on the rise
As the use of golf carts increases in popularity, they become increasingly dangerous. Many people don’t obey traffic lights, don’t wear their seat belts or don’t respect speed limits. Some drivers also don’t understand the ramifications of driving under the influence, sometimes ending with catastrophic results.
People The magazine reported: “A Texas man has been charged by Florida authorities with impaired driving manslaughter following the death of a former college baseball player who died after falling from a golf cart. golf course that the suspect was driving.”
The men were involved in the fatal accident at the Floridian National Golf Club in Port St. Lucie, Florida. Police reports say the driver hit a “raised manhole cover” and the man standing in the back of the golf cart fell from the vehicle, hitting the curb. He was pronounced dead at the local hospital.
RELATED: Which States Allow Golf Carts On The Road?