Washington, NC approves ordinance to allow Golf Carts on public roads

Washington, North Carolina, is cautiously allowing the use of golf carts on some city streets, as local paper the Washington Daily News reported that the city council unanimously approved an ordinance that complies with state regulations concerning low-speed vehicles on public roads.

The statewide mandate permits municipalities to allow for golf cart use on roads, so long as they are limited to areas in which the speed limit is 35 mph or less.

“The concept of regulation actually comes from the state code,” said Stacy Drakeford, the city’s Police and Fire Services director.

That’s how it’s generally done. Rather than write their own ordinance that could be challenged in court, towns, cities, even states, adopt the wording for laws from other time-tested, even court-tested regulations from other lands. In North Carolina, the state has already paved the way, so to speak. But each municipality has to give an official nod of approval by adopting the ordinance that, among other things, will allow for ordinance uniformity from city to city.

The following rules apply in Washington: Drivers must have a driver’s license and be 18 years of age or older. Golf carts must be registered and inspected by the local police department, as there is no statewide system for allowing mechanics to inspect golf carts, as they do cars.

The carts must have headlights, tail lights, brake lights, turn signals, a review mirror and a windshield, seat belts and a parking brake. Liability insurance is mandatory, as well, although the newspaper did not report on the value of the policy that must be carried for each road-worthy golf cart.

See North Carolina Golf Cart Laws Here

The city also gave the ordinance a cautionary note, adding a disclaimer to the law. “The city neither advocates or endorses the golf cart as a safe means of travel on public streets, roads and highways. The city shall in no way be liable for accidents, injuries or deaths involving or resulting from the operation of a golf cart.”

While holding to the speed limit limitation, golf carts in Washington will be permitted throughout the city with the exception of North Carolina Highway 17, Third Street, 15th Street and Fifth Street/John Small Avenue.

One other adaptation was penciled into the city’s ordinance, which is the stipulation on parking that notes, “The city encourages the use of one parking space for two golf carts.”

In a nutshell, golf carts are “restricted … to more of the secondary streets instead of our primary roads,” said Drakeford. “As long as everybody obeys the traffic laws that are in the North Carolina General Statutes and the city ordinances, there shouldn’t be any issues with golf carts on city streets.”

Timothy Baler has been a journalist for three decades and has had his work published in some of the nation's top publications, including The New York Times, The Miami Herald, National Wildlife and many more. He covered the economy for United Press International for eight years, but his true passion is the game of golf. The addiction took hold 20 years ago and since there's no known cure he's been at it ever since. Plays daily seven months of the year, says he goes into mourning for the other five.