Ahoskie approves golf cart usage

Published 10:36 am Tuesday, August 15, 2017

AHOSKIE – Don’t be surprised upon seeing a golf cart traveling on the streets of Ahoskie.

In a unanimous decision by the Ahoskie Town Council here Tuesday morning at their regularly scheduled meeting, a municipal ordinance dealing with Motor Vehicles and Traffic was amended to permit the use of golf carts on local streets.

The proposal was part of the Council’s consent agenda package, one in which all measures were approved without objection.

Permission to operate golf carts on town streets does come with some stipulations and regulations, the most significant of which is that the owners of these vehicles are required to maintain the same level of liability insurance like a regular automobile.

Additionally, in order to legally operate a golf cart on a public right-of-way, the owner is required to register that vehicle with the Town of Ahoskie. That registration comes with an annual fee of $25, which is required to be paid prior to the owner receiving their registration sticker, that must be displayed on the left rear fender of the golf cart.

Ahoskie Police Chief Troy Fitzhugh said those making an application to register their golf cart are required to meet certain safety regulations and abide by all requirements as outlined in the newly adopted ordinance.

“The key stipulation there is due to the heavy volume of traffic on both Academy Street and Memorial Drive (both of which are part of US 13), we are limiting operation of golf carts to only one block of those two streets,” Fitzhugh said after the Council adopted the measure. “Basically what that means is that Academy and Memorial can be used for a short distance when the need arises for the operator of a golf cart to gain access to another street.”

Other regulations governing the use of golf carts on the streets of Ahoskie are:

The golf cart may only be operated on streets and roads that have a posted speed limit of 35 mph or less;

No person under the age of 16 may operate a golf cart upon the streets and highways of Ahoskie;

Only the number of people the golf cart is designed to seat may ride on a golf cart; specifically passengers shall not be carried on the part of a golf cart designed to carry golf bags;

No golf cart may be operated at a speed greater than reasonable and prudent for the existing conditions, and in no instance at a speed greater than 20 mph;

No golf cart may be operated in a careless or reckless manner;

Golf carts must be operated to the extreme right of the roadway and must yield to all vehicular and pedestrian traffic; and

Golf carts must be operated in accordance with all applicable state and local laws and ordinances, including all laws, regulations and ordinances pertaining to the possession and use of alcoholic beverages.

Additionally, golf carts operating on Ahoskie streets are required to have the following equipment:

An exterior mirror mounted on the driver’s side of the vehicle and either an exterior mirror mounted on the passenger’s side of the vehicle or an interior mirror;

A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN;

A parking brake; and

A Type 1 or Type 2 seatbelt assembly conforming to section 571.209 of the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 209 (seatbelt assemblies installed at each designated seating position.

If the golf cart is operated at night, it is required to have operating headlamps, tail lamps, stop lamps, and front and rear turn signal lamps.

Other requirements include:

Golf carts may only be parked in the same manner and at the same places designated for the parking of motor vehicles or in parking spaces specifically dedicated for golf cart parking;

Golf carts may not be used as a taxicab or bus or for the commercial carrying of passengers or the hauling of freight;

Golf carts shall not be operated on or across any public or private properties without the permission of the property owner; and

During an emergency situation or at a special event, any police officer supervising or controlling traffic may direct that golf carts be operated only on or upon certain streets or locations as directed by the officer.

In addition to constituting a misdemeanor or infraction as provided by G.S. 14-4, violation of any provision of this ordinance shall subject the offender to a civil penalty in the amount of $50 for each separate of distinct offense to be recovered by the town in an action in the nature of debt if not paid by the offender within 72 hours after being cited for the violation.

As a liability disclaimer, Ahoskie officials note that this section of town’s ordinance is adopted to address the interest of public safety. Golf carts are not designed or manufactured to be used on the public streets and the town in no way advocates or endorses their operation on public streets or roads.

The town, by regulating this operation, is addressing obvious safety issues, and adoption of this section is not to be relied upon as determination that operation on public streets is safe or advisable if done in accordance with this section. All persons who operate or ride upon golf carts on public streets or roads do so at their own risk and peril, and must be observant of and attentive to the safety of themselves and others, including their passengers, other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians.

Ahoskie has no liability under any theory of liability and the city assumes no liability for permitting golf carts to be operated on public streets and roads under special legislation granted by the state legislature.

About Cal Bryant

Cal Bryant, a 40-year veteran of the newspaper industry, serves as the Editor at Roanoke-Chowan Publications, publishers of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald, Gates County Index, and Front Porch Living magazine.

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