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5 States Ban Golf Carts on Roads


You might have noticed traffic slowing down behind golf carts and wondered about its legality on public roads. In six states—Delaware, Hawaii, Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island, as well as New York City—it is illegal to drive these carts on public roads. New York City even bans them from sidewalks and parking lots. However, the other 44 states leave it up to local municipalities to decide.

In New York, the prohibition extends to parking lots, even though many are private properties. This seems unnecessary since state jurisdiction typically doesn’t apply there. The rationale behind banning carts from sidewalks is clearer, as large wheeled vehicles on sidewalks can pose dangers to pedestrians.

For the remaining states, local governments determine the rules. This approach is sensible since quieter towns might find golf carts preferable for reducing traffic congestion, while busy areas with faster traffic could face safety issues. These carts could be particularly hazardous in accidents involving larger vehicles.

The federal government categorizes golf carts as “low speed vehicles” (LSVs), which are generally restricted to roads with speed limits of 25 mph. Despite lacking airbags and crumple zones, they must have safety features like seat belts, headlights, mirrors, turn signals, and windshield wipers. They also require titles and license plates similar to regular cars.

States often add specific requirements. In California, golf carts need fenders, and in Vermont, only electric carts qualify under the LSV category. Thus, while only six states completely ban golf carts, many others impose restrictions. However, the reason behind New York City’s ban on carts in parking lots remains puzzling.

Overall, the regulation of golf carts varies widely, balancing between safety concerns and practical use in different environments.
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