A letter to the editor recently published in The News irked a few people on St. Simons Island about the use of golf carts as a means of conveyance around the seaside village.
The letter writer was given a ticket on the Fourth of July for impeding traffic for driving too slowly in the cart. She also complained about the police officer who wrote the ticket acting rudely during the stop.
We hope the complaint of rudeness was taken seriously by county police leadership, and if warranted, the officer was told to treat all people with patience and kindness until given reason to react differently.
The golf cart issue seems, though, to be what has gotten folks talking. Some people defend driving golf carts around the island, saying they are a cheap, fun and easy way to go a mile or two to the beach or to the Pier Village for a meal. Others see the carts as a nuisance, moving too slowly on public roads where cars are used to traveling at faster speeds.
We admit, both make compelling arguments. No one likes to be stuck behind a slow-moving vehicle on their way to work. At the same time, golf carts offer residents and visitors a nice change of pace and add to the quaint feeling people often cite as a reason they like the island.
Luckily there is guidance for people on both sides of the argument. State and local laws layout the ground rules. Golf carts are not to travel more than 20 mph. They are not allowed on roads on which the speed limit is more than 35 mph. Additionally, golf carts are to be outfitted with an amber flashing light on their roofs, the red and orange triangular sign that indicates a slow-moving vehicle as well as mirrors and the proper lighting. Drivers must also be legally licensed.
Once those requirements are met, golf cart drivers must pay attention to the traffic behind them. If it is backing up, they are asked to pull over and let the traffic pass. This is the most important aspect of driving a golf cart on the street. If golf cart drivers do not follow that rule, we hope local police officers follow through on giving tickets.
Ultimately, it is on the driver to know the rules and follow them. Rental companies do their part to outfit the carts properly and to explain the rules clearly. Once those renting the golf carts pull out of the parking lot, it is their responsibility to follow the laws, to stay safe and to get out of the way when necessary.
We don’t mind seeing golf carts driving around St. Simons Island, but they must follow the rules of the road and the rules that apply specifically to the carts.