The proliferation of golf carts on city streets in Greenville has prompted officials to consider ways to limit illegal use — though they say there isn’t much they can do beyond the laws that exist now.
The first step, City Council members say, is to conduct a campaign to educate the public on the laws that apply to golf carts — which include bans on driving at night, alcohol possession and consumption restrictions, age minimum and streets legal to drive on.
“We as a city should do some public service announcements in terms of safety,” Councilwoman Amy Ryberg Doyle said. “I’ve just seen some bad behavior. Anybody that’s driving with an infant or a baby or a child on their lap, it’s bad parenting. We can’t obviously legislate bad parenting, but I think we can do some announcements about that.”
The campaign will follow with more police involvement if problems of illegal use don’t get better, said Mayor Pro Tem David Sudduth, who said he sees a proliferation of golf carts on Augusta Road.
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“We try the carrot approach,” Sudduth said, “but at some point have to go the stick if folks aren’t going to obey the law.”
Much like the city’s short-lived ban on use of hand-held devices while driving, which were rendered void when the state passed a texting-while-driving law, the state’s restrictions on golf cart use supersede a municipality’s laws.
The city’s options beyond enforcement of state law related to golf carts is limited to reducing the four-mile radius from a home a person can drive to two miles, City Attorney Mike Pitts said.
Reducing the radius is an option Doyle said she would consider.
One other action the city will need to take if it wants to clarify golf cart use on Augusta Road is to define what parts of Augusta Road are considered U.S. and state highways, Greenville Police Sgt. Jason Rampey said.
The city and the state Department of Transportation haven’t completely cleared up some sections of Augusta Road, where in pieces it’s considered to be U.S. 25 and U.S. 20 and in other places not defined, he said.
In essence, golf carts aren’t allowed on streets with highway numbers — Stone Avenue (U.S. 76), Wade Hampton Boulevard and Church Street (U.S. 29), Academy Street (U.S. 123), Pendleton Street (State 124) and Woodruff Road (State 146), Rampey said.
Golf carts also aren’t allowed any street that has a speed limit in excess of 35 mph.
Golf carts can only be driven during daylight hours, which Pitts said is subjectively defined but relies on common sense.
Drivers can’t consume alcohol over the legal limit or possess an open container of alcohol and must be at least 16 with a valid driver’s license and registration.
Law enforcement can’t enforce seat belt use because state law requires a seatbelt be used only if a vehicle manufacturer includes them, Pitts said.
Seatbelts aren’t required on golf carts, he said.
The state’s laws were originally designed more with planned and gated communities in coastal areas in mind, not urban streets, Sudduth said.