Keeping safe on that golf cart

Keeping safe on that golf cart

Golf carts are basically a staple here in Beaufort. They’re not just for the golf course, no. Not here in the Lowcountry. We love our golf carts, so much so that we even have parades to celebrate them on Fripp Island and in Port Royal too, and we sure do love to customize and decorate them. You can even witness golf carts parked in downtown Beaufort on Bay Street, which of course does wonders for one’s ability to parallel park.

Golf Carts are convenient and just plain fun. It’s a quick way to zip over to the neighbor’s house, grab something from the local store, or lug all of that beach gear around. You see them all over the place.  In Mossy Oaks, in Royal Pines, and over in Port Royal they love their golf carts.  We have so much fun with them, and they’ve integrated themselves into our everyday lives so much that we sometimes tend to forget that there is a danger associated with all of that fun.

There are some safety rules and laws to follow that are important in staying safe on your cart, and in keeping those around you safe.  After all, nothing fun comes without safety rules.

According to the South Carolina Code of Laws, golf carts are classified under Specialized Vehicles, as Low Speed Vehicles. SC laws regulate general driving conduct for golf carts, but allow local governments to set their own specific laws on golf-cart use.

Those who wish to operate a golf cart must be at least 16 years old and possess a valid South Carolina driver’s license. (Yes, we routinely watch a sassy ten year old girl drive through our neighborhood quite erratically.) The driver of the golf cart must have the registration card of the golf cart and his/her driver’s license while operating the golf cart. In order to legally drive on public roads, golf cart drivers are required to get a permit by providing proof of title and paying a fee of five dollars. Golf cart drivers are required to follow all of the laws of the road that apply to motor vehicles.

Golf carts may be operated on a secondary road on which the speed limit is 35 miles per hour or less. However, golf carts may cross at an intersection of a highway with a speed limit greater than 35 miles per hour, but it is important to be especially cautious when doing so.  The owner can’t drive the golf cart farther than two miles from their residence and may only drive the cart on public roads during daylight hours.

Unlicensed minors are forbidden to drive golf carts on or off public roads under South Carolina Statute 56-3-115. According to SC Statute 56-1-480, the minor’s parents will be cited and fined $217.50 if their unlicensed child is apprehended driving a golf cart.

Yes, of course, you can get a DUI while driving a golf cart. The penalties for a first DUI conviction include a six-month license suspension, a $400 fine, and a jail sentence of 48 hours to 30 days or 48 hours of community service. Penalties for subsequent DUI offenses increase progressively.  Besides, driving drunk is just plain S-T-U-P-I-D no matter what you’re behind the wheel of.

South Carolina doesn’t require golf cart drivers to insure their cart. For $550 per year, drivers can take advantage of SC’s “Uninsured Motorist”  option which allows drivers without any convictions or offenses recorded on their SC driving records to drive their carts without insuring the vehicle. This option doesn’t release drivers from legal or financial liabilities if they’re found to be at fault in an accident.

Always put safety first.
Do not overload or exceed the limits of your cart.
Always keep extremities inside of the moving golf cart as to avoid injury.
Be aware of your surroundings and other traffic, be it a motor vehicle, dog, biker or pedestrian.
Utilize caution when approaching a bend, or a turn.
Above all, maintain a safe speed. Driving too fast can lead to passengers falling from the cart, causing trauma or even death.  Accidents in golf carts can prove fatal, as we have witnessed more than once here in our area.

Keeping these rules and safety precautions in mind…happy golf carting, Beaufort.