Go Golf Cart Go: The Battery-Powered Solution?
Spotted moving along on the roads in my city just last week was a golf cart. Is this solution to high gas prices (a bare-bones battery-powered vehicle) wise or even legal? I’ll tell you about a village that limits gas-powered vehicles in favor of electric golf carts and give you tips on using golf carts for more than just toting around clubs on the golf course.
The Village of Bald Head Island in North Carolina encourages use of golf carts as the primary mode of vehicular transportation and even has an ICE (internal combustion engine) ordinance whereby fees are charged for the privilege of operating an ICE machine. Access to the island is available via passenger-only (no cars) ferries from nearby Southport, NC so residents and visitors typically leave their cars on the mainland. Exceptions are made for emergency vehicles, trams that carry people and their luggage from the harbor to their accommodations, and construction contractors, who arrive via barge.
My sister-in-law and her husband own a house on the island so my husband, our kids, and I have traveled around town in the golf carts. While the kids enjoyed the cool factor, I was concerned about bumps in the road, sharp turns, and sudden stops, which could send them off their seats and into the street. We drove carefully and I held onto the kids and the cart itself. Bicycles are welcome as is walking but the times I have visited, most folks got around via their carts. (Safety tips from the village)
Here are some things I've learned about golf carts; they usually are:
- Less noisy than gas-powered cars and trucks
- More expensive than you might expect ($5,000 to $10,000)
- Have few built-in safety features (there may be no seat belts, for example, or any type of restraint that keeps passengers from falling out)
- Need to be recharged regularly (they can go about 30 miles before needing a charge)
- Slow and sometimes sluggish
- Able to carry passengers and groceries
Depending on where you live, you will likely encounter some basic rules relating to golf cart driving and ownership, such as:
- Drivers must have a driver’s license
- Vehicles must be registered with the Division of Motor Vehicles
- Vehicles must pass an annual inspection (related to safety features such as headlights and turn signals)
- Owners must carry liability insurance
Carts can be transformed into street-legal vehicles as demonstrated by John Auld in the Detroit, Michigan area. He added headlights, windshield wipers, turn signals, seat belts, and more to make his cart legal to drive on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or less.
If you are considering adding a golf cart to your garage, learn more from this ruling by The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, research your state and local laws, and be very careful.