The Rowan County town of Spencer is the latest community set to debate the controversial use of golf carts on public streets.
Spencer’s board of alderman is expected to discuss conditional use of golf carts on public streets at the 7 p.m. meeting on Tuesday, reports the Salisbury Post.
At the July meeting, Alderman Mike Boone asked that the issue be placed on the agenda, so the board could discuss setting regulations that might prevent future problems and increase safety, the Post said.
N.C. law requires any vehicle intended to be operated upon a public road to be registered with the state DMV. But the DMV will not issue a registration to a vehicle that meets the definition of a golf cart.
Under the law, unregistered vehicles such as golf carts can cross public roadways, but “cross” appears to be limited to the quickest and safest route from one side to the other. This seems to apply primarily to situations where cart paths intersect public roads. A golf cart cannot actually “use” a public road outside of the designated cart-path crossing points.
However, state law allows counties and cities to adopt their own provisions regulating the operation of golf carts on public streets and highways where the speed limit is 35 or less. Neither Mecklenburg County or the City of Charlotte have adopted such an ordinance.
The Salisbury Post says citizens who spoke during a recent public comment session advocated for the use of golf carts, but Mayor Jim Gobbel said it was important for the community to abide by state laws. Aldermen have suggested golf cart owners might add brake lights and turn signals to their carts.
North Carolina attracted national attention over the issue this year, when stories in the Observer detailed a Union County couple’s decision to let their then 11-year-old son drive a golf cart on Bald Head Island. The boy’s mother ended up being arrested, though the charges were ultimately dismissed after the officer failed to show up in court.
Drivers must be 16 and have a valid drivers’ license to drive a golf cart on Bald Head Island. There have been fatal accidents there from people falling out of carts, officials said.