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Should Florida require all golf carts be licensed and insured?

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Posted at 2:52 PM, Feb 28, 2024

Take a drive just about anywhere in the Sunshine State, and it doesn’t take long to see how popular golf carts have become here- on and, especially, off the greens.

But as more of these low-speed wheels are hitting the pavement, high impact crashes and incidents are reaching disturbing new levels.

Several years ago, a golf cart careened through a busy Tampa Bay Walmart.

In 2022, a formerTampa Bay police chief was forced to resign after police video showed her flashing her badge to get out of a ticket while riding in a golf cart with her husband.

Two years ago, a woman was caught in a golf cart driving drunk on I-95, and last summer, a three-year-old driving a golf cart in Fort Myers struck and killed his 7-year-old brother.

Michael and Christine Kurasz know the heartbreak of losing a child to a golf cart accident.

“It’s devastating. There’s nothing that can prepare you for that type of news,” they told reporter Katie LaGrone recently.

Seven years ago, their 28-year-old daughter, Leah, was among three friends killed in Pasco County while riding in a golf cart on Christmas Eve night.

“It wasn’t the golf cart that got to us,” Mr. Kurasz said. “It was learning that the driver of the car was racing down back roads with no headlights and literally drove over the golf cart at such a high rate of speed that they took a golf cart and collapsed it down to 12 inches,” he said about the intensity of the crash.

Since 2020, the number of Florida crashes involving low-speed vehicles, including golf carts, has nearly doubled, according to data provided to us by the Florida Highway Patrol. (FHP)

While nationwide, golf cart accidents are blamed for roughly 13,000 emergency room visits a year according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.

To increase golf cart safety measures, Florida lawmakers raised the legal age to drive a golf cart last year to 15 as long as the teen also has a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

But that’s about as far as current state laws go.

We’ve learned, for the most part, that neither a license plate nor insurance is required in Florida as long as your golf cart doesn’t exceed 20 miles per hour.

The same rules apply even in Florida communities where golf carts rule the road.

“The golf cart is our main mode of transportation,” said David Fountaine, Executive Vice President of the Villages Homeowners Advocates in the Villages, FL. The Central Florida retirement community is often described as the golf cart capital of the world, with approximately 75,000 golf carts. It also logs among the most golf cart crashes statewide, according to FHP.

When asked Fountaine if he sees the benefit in beefing up state law to require all golf carts to be registered and insured.

“I don't think so,” he said. “Most of us already have the liability, and we really encourage that insurance. It’s really affordable.” Fountaine told us he pays less than $200 per year for his own golf cart insurance.

But in Tarpon Springs, insurance and license plates are mandatory on all golf carts, regardless of how fast they go.

Longtime resident Norman Hill contacted us to let us know about his city’s rules. He believes these same rules should apply across Florida.

“We feel safer in Tarpon Springs because we are regulated,” he said.

It’s a topic that, for now at least, isn’t driving any kind of public debate in Florida and doesn’t appear to be changing direction anytime soon.

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