Carmel City Council discusses rules for golf carts on roads

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The Carmel City Council is considering an ordinance about golf carts on public roads that could require all operators to have driver’s license, obtain a “golf cart” permit and not drive on sidewalks.

All of the rules only apply to public roadways and not private property such as golf courses.

The council scrapped a separate proposal to limit riding on the outside of vehicles and will instead pursue an overarching ordinance dealing with golf cart usage on city streets. The previous ordinance was voted down unanimously.

City Council President Ron Carter had previously introduced a bill that prohibited riding on the outside of vehicles. He said it was aimed at young people in the West Clay area that have been piling into golf carts and riding around the area. Government vehicles were excluded, but several city councilors were concerned that, if passed, it could apply to garbage collection, as Ray’s Trash Service uses workers on the outside of vehicles. Local competitor Republic Services uses a mechanical arm instead.

Councilor Sue Finkam reported that councilors in committee thought if the ordinance was really just about golf carts then it could be better addressed in a golf cart ordinance, which was on its way at that point.

The new bill, sponsored by councilors Finkam, Kevin “Woody” Rider, Laura Campbell, Jeff Worrell and Carol Schleif, was introduced at the July 18 meeting and sent to committee.

The proposed ordinance adds the following rules:

  • Golf cart drivers must get a “permit” from the chief of the Carmel Police Dept. and could be subject to a $100 fine without one.
  • Golf carts can’t be operated on any public roadway with a speed limit above 35 miles per hour. Golf carts are only allowed to cross roads with speed limits higher than that at crossings that have a stop sign or traffic control signal.
  • Golf cart drivers must have a valid driver’s license to be on public roadways.
  • Golf cart drivers on public roadways must have car insurance.
  • Golf carts can only be operated from sunrise to sundown unless the golf cart has headlights, taillights, brake lights, seatbelts, turn signals and a rearview mirror.
  • Golf carts cannot be operated on any city sidewalks or multi-use paths.
  • No child weighing less than 48 pounds who requires a child safety restraint seat is permitted to ride inside a golf cart.
  • The driver and all passengers must wear a seat belt when the vehicle is in operation. One seat belt must be available per each occupant. This rule eliminates the problem of people riding on the back or outside of golf carts while in motion.

Fines could start at $100 for a first offense, then $250 for second offense within a year and $500 for a third offense with a year.

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