Golf Cart Safety

Golf carts are everywhere on the Hill.  They are convenient and clean, easy to operate and move around city streets.  Folks use golf carts for a host of reasons – quick trips to the corner grocery store, dropping kids off at school, traveling to a friend’s house a handful of blocks away, grabbing drinks and dinner at a local restaurant or even getting to Mass on Sunday morning.  For all those faithful operators, it’s important to discuss golf cart safety.

The Dangers Involved

Despite their popularity, golf carts aren’t without risk.  It’s common to see a handful of teens in the family golf cart, unattended and unsupervised.  Sometimes, adults operate the vehicles with a koozie in hand, opened box of beer at their feet.  Many folks drive their golf carts down the middle of the street and pay little attention to local traffic control devices like stop signs.  It’s also not uncommon to come across a golf cart parked on the sidewalk, clearly blocking pedestrian use of the walkway.

Where Can I Drive?

Missouri law allows golf carts on public streets.  However, golf carts may not be driven on a federal or state highway in the state or used to cross an intersection where the street being crossed has a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or more.  Also, Missouri statute directs that golf cart use may be limited by local ordinance, meaning that municipalities may impose restrictions on golf carts on city streets.  The City of St. Louis, where we live, has no such restrictions in place.

What Else Does the Law Say?

A golf cart is a motorized vehicle.  Like any other vehicle, golf carts are subject to the same statutes and restrictions that govern vehicle driven on public streets.  Under Missouri law, only licensed drivers over the age of 16 years may operate a golf cart on a public street.  And, like automobile drivers, a golf cart driver has the legal duty to use the highest degree of care when operating the vehicle.  Accordingly, a golf cart driver must drive the vehicle as a very careful person would under the same or similar circumstances.

Golf carts drivers must also follow Missouri’s rules of the road.  Golf cart drivers must comply with all state and local laws applying to the driving of motorized vehicles.  Operators of golf carts must comply with traffic control devices like stop signs, operate the vehicle on the right side of the road, and park the golf cart along, parallel and near the curb.  Golf carts cannot be driven on sidewalks and must be equipped with certain safety equipment, such as mirrors.  Passengers should wear seat belts.  And, of course, drivers should beware their alcohol intake before getting behind the wheel.

Check your Insurance Coverage

Finally, do not assume that your motor vehicle insurance policy covers your use of a golf cart on a public street.  Many policies include standard language excluding coverage for injuries you or your passengers suffer while driving or occupying a golf cart.  Read the language of your policy carefully or consult with the broker or agent who sold the policy to you.