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Golf carts drive complaints

Thursday, July 30, 2015

Golf cart accidents can be very serious, even fatal. News websites and government agencies, including the Department of Labor, provide scores of sobering statistics and stories about tragedies involving golf carts. It doesn’t take much research to find horrific accounts of head injuries, fractures and even deaths due to these types of accidents.

Statistics from the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission indicate there are approximately 13,000 golf-cart related emergency room visits in this country annually, and of those, about 40 percent involve children under the age of 16.

These tragedies involve not only people driving or riding in golf carts, but some victims were struck while walking or riding a bicycle nearby. The National Golf Cart Association cites speed as a common factor in accidents, noting that most injuries are caused when a passenger is ejected or has a cart roll on top of them — both due to sharp turns and too much speed. Golf carts, it is noteworthy, usually don’t have seat belts.

In an effort to protect its citizens, the village has had rules in place for a number of years regarding battery-powered vehicles. However, even the casual observer couldn’t help but notice this summer that not everyone is adhering to these rules here in Forsyth.

Trustee David Wendt sends out a regular update to residents via email as a way to provide a recap of board meetings. The subject of underage kids driving golf carts in the village has come up more than once at recent meetings this summer. Wendt made mention of this fact in an email he sent to residents on July 12 when he wrote:

“We have had other reports of golf carts being driven unsafely (in the street and/or driven by younger kids). Remember that under village ordinance, only battery-powered golf carts are allowed, the driver must be 16 or older with a valid driver’s license and carts must remain on bike paths or sidewalks.”

During the law enforcement report of July 20, Wendt mentioned the subject to Lt. Jamie Belcher of the Macon County Sheriff’s Office, who was giving his report to trustees that night.

Wendt told Belcher and trustees that he had quite a lot of feedback from residents on the subject. And, it’s not something he’s simply fielded complaints about, Wendt has witnessed dangerous driving of golf carts first-hand in recent days.

“My wife and I saw a two-seat golf cart with at least six kids on it flying out into Weaver Road,” Wendt said. “There were three kids standing on the back flying from Stevens Creek Boulevard to Weaver Road.”

Belcher recommended to anyone who sees an underage youth driving a golf cart, or sees unsafe or unlawful use of a golf cart, to call law enforcement and let officers handle the situation.

“It’s best to call us,” Belcher said, adding that officers could speak to the offenders about how to properly drive a golf cart, and if the driver is not of age, issue a citation.

Here is Section 71.01 of the Village Code, which reads, in part:

“Battery-powered vehicles may be operated within the Village of Forsyth on village sidewalks and bike paths, except those within the boundaries of the Village Park, at a safe and reasonable speed, not to exceed 20 mph. Motorized vehicles weighing more than 75 pounds can only be operated by a licensed driver. Medical walk-assist vehicles, authorized emergency vehicles and vehicles operated by village employees in their official capacity will be exempt from this section.”

A number of motorized vehicles weighing more than 75 pounds would fall under this section of the law. If you have any questions about golf carts or other motorized vehicles, please contact Village Hall at 877-9445. 

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