Utah Legislature OKs golf carts on streets

First, the Legislature allowed electric scooters. Now it gave the final green light on Thursday to allow unlicensed golf carts on local roads, too.

The Senate voted unanimously on Thursday — as the House did earlier — to approve HB184, and sent it to Gov. Gary Herbert for his possible signature.

It will allow cities to decide whether to allow golf carts on their streets. If they do, it requires them to decide on which streets they are allowed, who may drive, and at what hours — which could include banning child or unlicensed drivers.

The bill was requested by Elk Ridge, a city in Utah County. Many of its residents moved there to be near the Gladstan Golf Course, and own carts that they would like to take around town.

Elk Ridge City Council member Jim Chase said a problem arises in how to ticket and stop the children as young as 8 years old that he sees driving carts around his city all the time.

“And the carts are full of other kids. And it’s not mom or dad sitting next to them. It’s an older brother,” he said. “Some are so short they can barely see over the steering wheel.”

Chase said his city found that it cannot ticket those kids unless it also cites adult cart drivers — because no golf carts are allowed on public Utah roads under current state law. Officials said the bill sponsored by Rep. Marc Roberts, R-Salem, would permit allowing carts on streets, but ban children driving them.

The bill does some surprising things, considering that carts would be vehicles allowed on public roads. Cart owners who drive on city streets would not be required to obtain insurance, license plates nor vehicle registration.

The bill adds that golf carts essentially would be treated like bicycles. As it says, “A golf cart shall comply with the same requirement as a bicycle for traffic rules.”