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5 States Don’t Let Golf Carts on the Roads, and 1 State Doesn’t Let Them in Parking Lots Either


You were surprised to see a row of cars moving slowly (15 mph) the other day, and then you saw a golf cart moving slowly in front of the cars. It made you wonder how it was allowed to drive that thing on the road. If you live in one of these six states: It most certainly wasn’t. In Hawaii, Delaware, Maryland, Missouri, and Rhode Island, it is against the law to drive a golf cart on a public road. New York City has the same rule, but golf carts are not allowed on the streets or in parking lots. The other 44 states might not ban them, but cities and towns can.

What’s going on in New York? I think there is a rule that says wheeled vehicles can’t be on sidewalks. Large wheels need to move with the traffic and follow the rules of the road in many places. It’s not okay to scare people on foot by riding your bike down the path. It makes sense that golf carts belong in this group. Why not car lots? A lot of those are on private land, and New York State doesn’t even have control over them.

What about the other 44 states? Most of them let the cities and towns decide if golf carts are allowed. I also think this is smart. A small lake town with a quiet center might like it if people came to dinner in golf carts instead of clogging up the roads and parking lots with cars and trucks. But in some places with a lot of traffic, golf carts could be a pain. They would be even more dangerous if they crashed.

Next question that comes to mind: Is it safe to drive a golf cart next to a big, fast car? The federal government is in charge of rating crash tests. Golf carts are in a group called “low speed vehicles.” Most places don’t let these cars go faster than 25 mph, but they need to be able to go 20 mph to keep up with traffic. They can’t go on roads with faster traffic. And they need other safety gear to be on a public road even if they don’t have airbags and crush zones: Lights, mirrors, turn signs, windshield wipers, seat belts, and more. Like real cars, they have titles and license plates.

Many states have extra rules that apply to the whole state. Without bumpers, golf carts aren’t allowed on any road in California. They can only be used for the LSV gap in Vermont if they are electric. So many states do not allow golf carts, even though only 6 states do not allow all of them. But I still don’t get that parking lot rule.

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