For a few years now, people have been driving golf carts places other than just the golf course. They are a great form of transportation for first-time drivers, families, and retirees in Florida. Whether on a vacation resort or a retirement community, you’ll likely drive a golf cart at some point in Florida.
Golf carts are much more convenient than cars and are easier for the driver to operate than a bicycle. With the best of both worlds, it’s easy to forget that they are still motor vehicles. Here are some golf cart driving safety tips to remember when driving down the Florida roads.
Differentiating Golf Carts and Low-Speed Vehicles
Before understanding the specific “dos and don’ts” of driving a golf cart, we need to understand what they are. Under Florida law, a golf cart is a motor vehicle that can’t operate over 20 miles per hour. Under the same rules, a Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) is a vehicle that can’t drive over 25 miles per hour.
It seems like splitting hairs, but the state defines them differently and regulates them just as differently on the road. For example, you can drive golf carts and LSVs on residential streets, but only LSVs can drive on public roads. Additionally, just like a car, LSVs must be registered as vehicles through the state, while golf carts don’t have to be.
If at any point you alter a golf cart and it then fits the definition of an LSV, it becomes one. In the eyes of the State of Florida, you now have an LSV. This distinction is important to remember when trying to understand the road laws when driving a golf cart or LSV.
Remember Road Laws
The most basic of golf cart safety tips is obeying all road laws. A golf cart is a motor vehicle, no matter what speed it travels, and when driving on the road, you must abide by all the laws you would in a car. The following tips are common road laws people forget when driving a golf cart.
Always Wear Your Seatbelt
Sometimes people don’t wear their seatbelts when driving their golf carts. In a golf cart or LSV, wearing your seatbelt is the difference between life and death since you don’t have airbags or a roll cage. 51% of victims killed in car accidents in 2020 died because they did not buckle their seatbelt.
Even at 25 miles an hour, a seatbelt will save your life. Wearing your seatbelt and having your children and other passengers wear seatbelts when on the golf cart with you will keep you from suffering an untimely loss.
Don’t Drive on Restricted Roads
Golf carts can only drive on residential roads, and LSVs can only operate on public roads with a speed limit of 35 or lower. If a police officer catches you driving a slow vehicle on a restricted road, he will give you a ticket and impound the golf cart. You may even be the cause road rage to other drivers.
Don’t Drink and Drive
Driving a golf cart while intoxicated is far more common than it should be. It’s illegal, morally wrong, and will result in DWI charges and the impounding of your golf cart.
Obey Traffic Signs and Signals
When some people drive a golf cart, they forget that they have to obey all the standard road rules. If you’re driving a vehicle on the road, whether a car, bicycle, golf cart, or LSV, you must obey all road signs and signals. This rule includes stop signs, yield signs, speed limit signs, or red lights.
Be a Responsible Driver
The following golf cart driving safety tips aren’t necessarily road laws, but they are good rules to remember.
Like driving a motorcycle, you need to worry about yourself and all the other drivers on the road. You need to be defensive, not aggressive, and remember that all the other vehicles on the road are larger than yours. The larger vehicle will win every time an accident involves a golf cart and a larger vehicle.
Keep body parts inside the cart or LSV at all times, unless you are using hand signals to turn. Additionally, don’t text and drive.
Remember the Size of Your Vehicle
A golf cart or LSV is much smaller than a standard vehicle and can’t do the same things. Motorcycles, golf carts, and LSVs have difficulty triggering red lights without aftermarket modifications. In addition, avoid sharp turning because golf carts are top-heavy and may flip or cause passenger ejection.
Always Yield to Pedestrians
In Florida, pedestrians almost always have the right-of-way. The best thing to do is always assume that they do, even when you think they may be in the wrong.
Always yield to them, no matter the situation.
Hitting a pedestrian in Florida is a nasty legal business, and it’s even worse when a golf cart is involved.
Remember Driver Age
Florida does not require you to have a driver’s license to operate a golf cart. For this reason, they are trendy in retirement communities and vacation resorts. Golf cart drivers must be 14 years or older. A golf cart is a great way to teach your teen how to drive before getting their license.
Golf Cart Accidents and Your Safety
The best golf cart driving safety tips are always obeying road laws and being a responsible driver. Follow those two rules, and you should be safe enough to go wherever is legal in Florida.
However, if you are involved in a golf cart accident, you may need legal counsel. Pamela Olsen, Esp. represents the people of Ocala and nearby areas in golf cart accidents. She offers free initial consultations and doesn’t charge you until the case is closed. Contact Pam Olsen, Esq. today for free consultation at (352) 671-9777. Or if you prefer, you can complete this simple contact form and she will be in touch right away.