Southern Shores says no golf carts on town streets

By on September 7, 2010

Opening the streets of Southern Shores to golf carts gained no traction Tuesday night after the police chief provided a rundown on how many deaths and injuries they can cause.

Town Council member Kevin Stroud tried to make a case for the carts, which are growing in popularity, especially in retirement communities. He said they are environmentally efficient, would help solve parking problems and are no more dangerous than motorized scooters.

“This town, to me, is ideally set up for it,” he said.

Police Chief David Kole said low-speed vehicles are already permitted by state law on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

Low-speed vehicles are basically golf carts with vehicle identification numbers that have the safety features of cars, including lights, windshield wipers, seatbelts, a parking brake and a speedometer. They must be registered and inspected, run at more than 20 mph but less than 25 mph and be operated by licensed drivers.

Golf carts are designed for golf courses and have none of the safety features, Kole said. They are prone to rollovers, he said, and nationwide, he said, they were blamed for at least 39 deaths in 2006 and 2007. He cited statistics on thousands of injuries.

“Low speed vehicles. I have no problem with,” Kole said.

Either way, neither can get completely across town from the northern sections of Southern Shores to commercial areas, including the Food Lion at The Marketplace.

Connecting streets such as Chicahauk Trial and Sea Oats Lane with a trail to provide a crossover would likely face strong objections from homeowners in the neighborhoods.

While state law address the operation of low-speed vehicles on public streets, it allows localities to set rules for golf carts.

Dare County recently allowed the operation of golf carts in Hatteras Village, where the speed limit is 35 mph or less. Operators need to be 16 or older and they can be driven only during daylight hours.

“I just can’t see golf carts operating on the streets of Southern Shores,” Mayor Hal Denny said.

On the front: Photo from the Texas DMV website.

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