Golf carts are everywhere in St. Louis. 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 a Sunday morning. For all of those faithful operators, it’s important that we 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 and opened box of beer at their feet. Many folks even drive their golf carts down the middle of the street, paying 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 also directs that golf cart use may be limited by local ordinance – this means that municipalities may impose their own restrictions when it comes to golf carts on city streets. The City of St. Louis, where I 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 statutes and restrictions that govern operation on public streets – observing these requirements is a vital part of golf cart safety. 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 user must drive the vehicle as carefully as a very cautious person would, under the same or similar circumstances.
Golf carts drivers must also follow Missouri’s rules of the road. If you’re driving a golf cart, you 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 to, 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 representative who sold the policy to you.
At Casey, Devoti & Brockland, we always remain willing to answer any questions that come up should you, a family member or friend become hurt while on a golf cart. For more information on safe vehicle operation, check out our Legal & Safety blog entries.