Charleston police urging golf cart safety, compliance after crashes

CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) – The Charleston Police Department says the goal is education first and enforcement second when it comes to golf cart safety, following two serious crashes involving golf carts in the past few months.

“We have several people who have been hurt recently in golf cart collisions, and especially as the weather increases, it gets better, we’ll see more people out on golf carts, neighborhoods, on streets and things like that, and the goal is education not necessarily enforcement, but that could be the following steps if we get to that point,” said Sgt. Bryant Marcell with the Charleston Police Department.

On April 29, CPD said the driver of a golf cart was thrown from the vehicle after colliding with a sedan in downtown Charleston.

On March 5, a golf cart driven by a 13-year-old rolled over onto its side with three additional juveniles on the cart, according to a report from CPD. The report shows that incident happened on Daniel Island.

“It just shows the inherent danger, even if the person on the golf cart is doing everything they’re supposed to be doing,” Marcell said. “When you start driving on those major roadways, you see the potential danger for that.”

Marcell says they see a lot of people with distractions while driving golf carts. He said the most common areas for golf carts are in downtown Charleston, Daniel Island, and in larger neighborhoods like Carolina Bay in West Ashley.

“We see golf carts with several kids, like young juveniles or even infants, somebody driving the golf cart while they’re drinking their coffee with an infant and with a couple of kids on there,” Marcell said. “We’ve seen dogs on there. We’ve seen younger people driving golf carts.”

According to the SC Code of Laws, golf carts can be operated during daylight hours only, and within four miles of the address on registration certificate. Golf carts must only be driven on secondary roads with speed limits of 35 miles per hour or less. The person operating the golf cart must be at least 16 years old and have a valid drivers license.

Marcell says you have to treat driving golf carts just like you are driving a car. He says you need to make complete stops at stop signs, drive on the correct side of the roadway, and you can’t drive on sidewalks. The same rules also apply to impaired driving.

Despite seeing people not following the rules, Marcell says its “uncommon” for officers to issue citations.

“Most of the time, it ends up being warnings with the goal of education, because a lot of people don’t realize it,” Marcell said. “We’re really trying to force the education side of it, to avoid the penalties of citations and monetary fines and things like that.”

As we enter the summer season, Marcell says that even with the increase in golf carts around town, people should still be mindful of the safety aspect.

“If you get hit in a car, cars are designed to crunch, they’re designed for the airbags, they’re designed for all those things,” Marcell said. “Golf carts have none of those.”

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