By Marcus Fernandez
An extremely popular retirement community in Florida has approximately 120,000 residents. It also has 60,000 golf carts.
Vehicles made to transport golfers during a round of golf have become commonplace on roadways throughout Florida. Counting golf carts in the state is challenging due to the lack of registration or titles required.
One way to get an idea of the proliferation of carts on the streets of Tampa and other Florida communities is to look around you. Golf carts are everywhere. From the beach to the shopping mall, people leave their cars at home and use golf carts to get around town.
If you have a golf cart or are considering buying one, here is some information about golf cart safety and staying legal on the streets.
What is a golf cart?
Florida law classifies golf carts as motorized vehicles for recreational and sporting activities capable of a maximum speed not exceeding 20 mph. Their design is identical to the carts you see at your local golf course.
Do not confuse a golf cart with a low-speed vehicle (LSV). An LSV is a four-wheeled, motorized vehicle capable of achieving a minimum speed of at least 20 mph with a maximum speed that does not exceed 25 mph.
Vehicle owners are responsible for actively registering and titling their LSVs with the state, as well as obtaining personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability insurance coverage. Operators of LSVs must possess a valid driver’s license. LSVs may operate on roads where the posted speed limit is no greater than 35 mph if they have the proper equipment, including headlights, taillights, and turn signals.
In contrast to LSVs, golf carts cannot operate on roads with speed limits greater than 30 mph except under the following conditions:
- Crossing a roadway with a speed limit above 30 mph intersecting a street where golf carts are permitted.
- When on a road intersecting a golf course, as long as signs are posted permitting golf carts to be on it.
- When on a road intersecting a mobile home park, as long as signs are posted permitting golf carts to be on it.
Unlike LSVs, the state does not require golf carts to be registered or titled. The state also does not require insurance coverage. People operating golf carts may do so without a driver’s license if they are at least 14 years old.
Recent legislation about golf cart operation
A new law takes effect in Florida on October 1, 2023, imposing the following restrictions on golf cart operators:
- Instead of permitting anyone 14 years and older to operate a golf cart, the new legislation requires operators younger than 18 to have a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit.
- Operators at least 18 years old may operate golf carts as long as they have a valid driver’s license or another form of government-issued photo identification.
The new law leaves it to local municipalities to determine where and when golf carts may legally operate, which is similar to the practice under existing legislation.
Local communities have the right to establish rules about the equipment for golf carts to operate on roadways. For example, golf carts may legally operate on Tampa roads with speed limits that do not exceed 35 mph. Communities may require that cart owners install headlights, turn signals, seat belts, or other safety equipment.
Golf cart safety
The National Safety Council reports that a 10-year study of injuries related to the operation of golf carts revealed that more than 156,000 people suffered injuries from accidents. The study pointed to the lack of basic safety features, such as seat belts, as one of the reasons for the number of injuries requiring emergency department treatment.
The following tips for golf cart safety may help you avoid accidents and injuries:
- Do not overload a golf cart with more passengers than there are seats.
- Do not let anyone stand while the golf cart is in motion.
- If the cart you are in has seat belts, wear one.
- Do not operate while drunk or impaired by drugs or alcohol.
- Obey all traffic laws and rules of the road.
- Seek shelter in the event of lightning.
- Use hand signals when operating a cart not equipped with brake lights and turn signals.
Do not allow yourself to become distracted while operating a golf cart. It’s easy to let the scenery or conversations with passengers divert attention from the road and the task of driving, but distracted driving can lead to accidents.
Injured in a golf cart accident? Contact a Tampa personal injury attorney
In the event of a golf cart accident causing injury, you hold the right to pursue compensation from the individual accountable for the incident. Learn more about your rights and how to enforce them during a free consultation with an experienced Tampa personal injury attorney. Contact KFB Law personal injury attorneys today.