ELIZABETHTOWN — Golf carts were given the yellow light at Monday night’s meeting of the Elizabethtown Town Council.
“As you know, current North Carolina law prohibits the use of golf carts, and we’ve had numerous complaints about people riding them,” explained Elizabethtown Police Chief Tony Parrish. “General Statute 153A-245 allows towns to adopt ordinances allowing golf carts, and I’ve put something together that I think will be fair to people of Elizabethtown and fair to the officers enforcing the law.”
Parrish noted numerous complaints his department has received, as well as his own experiences seeing children driving on public roads.
“I’ve seen it myself on several occasions — small kids operating golf carts, racing each other, going through a four-way intersection without even slowing down, making left-hand turns without stopping, all with me right behind them,” he told the board and guests. “The intention of the ordinance is the safety of kids.”
Parrish recommended to the board the following ordinance:
Golf cart drivers must:
— Be adults or teens holding a valid driver’s license. Golf cart operators must carry their driver’s license on their person at all times while operating a golf cart on public roads.
— Be covered under liability insurance in an amount not less than required by North Carolina law for motor vehicles.
— Use hand signals if the golf cart is not equipped with turn signals.
Golf carts must:
— Have the basic equipment supplied by the manufacturer, including vehicle identification or serial number, working brakes, rear view mirror, and rear triangle reflector of the same type required by North Carolina law.
— Have two working headlights and tail lights visible from 500 feet, in order to operate after daylight.
Golf carts can be operated:
— On public roads with a posted speed limit less than 25 miles per hour, with exceptions below. Golf cart drivers can cross roads with a posted speed limit exceeding 25 miles per hour, but must cross in the most direct route, avoiding crossing at angles.
— On the right edge of the roadway. Drivers must yield to vehicular and pedestrian traffic.
— Only in accordance with the manufacturer’s maximum capacity guidelines regarding the number of passengers.
Golf carts cannot be operated:
— By anyone without a license.
— On Broad Street, Poplar Street, Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive, Swanzy Street, Cromartie Road, or Peanut Road, or within any commercially zoned areas in town.
— On roads with a posted speed limit in excess of 25 miles per hour.
— In excess of 20 miles per hour, nor can they exceed any lower speed above what is reasonable and prudent for existing conditions.
— With passengers that are standing or riding on any part not designed to carry passengers, including the space designed to carry clubs.
— With open containers of alcohol or other substances forbidden on North Carolina roads.
— After daylight if not equipped with lights.
In addition, golf carts cannot be parked on sidewalks, but must park in designated areas in such a way that multiple golf carts can utilize the space.
“The state requires (an ordinance), and it cannot be any less restrictive than this,” Parrish told the board.
The ordinance further reads, “Golf carts are not designed for nor manufactured to be used on public streets, and the town neither advocates nor endorses the golf cart as a safe means of travel on public streets, roads, and highways…Any person who owns, operates, or rides upon a golf cart on a public road…does so at his or her own risk…”
Around 15 people from the Forest Hills neighborhood were in attendance and represented by spokesman Bobby Kinlaw, former police chief in Elizabethtown.
“We are 100 percent in support of what (Parrish) recommends,” Kinlaw told the Council. “I’ve seen some retired folks … and the highlight of their day is getting on a golf cart riding through the neighborhood. That’s one of the benefits of passing the ordinance.”
“If one child’s life can be saved, it will make it all worthwhile,” offered Mayor Sylvia Campbell.
The ordinance passed unanimously and is effective immediately.
Copies of the ordinance will be available on the police department’s Facebook page or in the municipal building, or copies can be obtained by emailing the department to request a digital copy or picking up a paper copy at Town Hall.
Chrysta Carroll can be reached by calling 910-862-4163 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org.