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  1. Transportation

Answer to golf cart question not as simple as it seems

Golf carts and cars share the road in Sun City Center, where signs are posted in accordance with state law.
Golf carts and cars share the road in Sun City Center, where signs are posted in accordance with state law.
Published May 3, 2017

I've been noticing a number of golf carts roaming the streets, mingling with automobile traffic in Shore Acres and Snell Isle lately. What I have not noticed are any government-issued license tags on these vehicles. Is the use of golf carts and their like governed by any agency? Are they allowed to roam unfettered and unregulated on streets and sidewalks?

Operating golf carts on public roads, streets, or sidewalks is prohibited in Florida, but there are exceptions: golf carts can use county or municipal roads that have been designated for cart use by the governmental entity that has authority. Factors such as the volume and speed of traffic that ordinarily uses the road are considered in making this designation. If the designation is made, the county or municipality in charge is accountable for posting signs that say that golf cart used is allowed.

In the case of a state road, golf carts are permitted if they are crossing through an intersection on a designated golf-cart-allowed road and the state Department of Transportation has approved this use. Golf cart use can be permitted on streets in self-contained retirement communities — for instance, you may see carts legally crossing a street or highway adjacent to mobile home communities — signage must be posted at the entrance and exit of the mobile home park where residents operate golf carts or other electric vehicles within the confines of the park.

Carts are also permissible for use by municipal and state recreation and parks departments on roads that are part of the state park road system if the posted speed limit is 35 mph or less and the carts are equipped with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and a windshield.

Golf carts are permitted on sidewalks only if the local governing entity determines that conditions call for such usage, that carts, bicycles, and pedestrians may safely share the sidewalk, and the appropriate signs are posted that inform residents that the ordinance exists.

Enforcement is up to the law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction; violations of state statutes on the use of golf carts are considered noncriminal traffic infractions. One more detail: The minimum age for a golf cart operator is 14. Read the Florida statutes on motor vehicles that pertain to golf carts in detail at ow.ly/mC0Q30bjxgA.

So the question remains: Are they legal on the streets of Snell Isle and Shore Acres? Cheryl N. Stacks, transportation manager with the city of St. Petersburg, said there was no specific code or regulation that would allow for golf carts to be used by the general public on city streets, but stopped short of saying they were illegal, instead deferring to the state statutes.

Email Dr. Delay at docdelay@gmail.com to share your traffic concerns and questions. Follow @AskDrDelay.

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