Hobart considers rules for golf carts on streets
By Karen Caffarini Post-Tribune correspondent August 3, 2012 2:52PM
Updated: September 7, 2012 6:09AM
HOBART — With more residents using golf carts as an affordable and environmentally friendly transportation alternative, the City Council is looking at enacting an ordinance to regulate them.
“There’s more and more demand for electric golf carts as people want to be environmentally friendly. But I’m concerned about the ages of some of the people we’ve seen driving them and that they’re driving them around dusk,” Mayor Brian Snedecor said during an ordinance committee meeting last week.
He suggested looking at ordinances enacted by other communities that allow golf carts on roads, such as Chesterton, Wanatah and Beverly Shores.
Council President Dave Vinzant, D-4th, said the golf carts can’t keep up with traffic on the main roads, and councilman Jerry Herzog, D-1st, said he’s seen people driving electric scooters on 61st “that don’t look old enough to drive, have no helmets on and are driving all over the place.”
Police Chief Jeff White said a state statute requires drivers of mopeds and scooters 50cc and under to be at least 15, maintain an Indiana ID card and, if under age 18, to wear a helmet.
He asked that the council be specific if it does enact a golf cart ordinance for enforcement purposes. White said, for instance, if the cart is being operated at night it should have a white lens in front and a red one in back. He said other cities require the driver to have a valid driver’s license, although the cart itself doesn’t need to be licensed.
White also asked that there be a provision that the vehicle can be towed if necessary.
“If we stop a 13-year-old, we would otherwise need to wait at the scene until a legal driver arrived to get the vehicle. Our officers don’t have that time,” White said.
White said some people use the golf carts to travel a couple blocks to visit a neighbor.
“There are more and more of them as neighborhoods gel, but we need minimum standards to keep everyone safe,” White said.
Wanatah Clerk-Treasurer Diane Noll said the town, which enacted an ordinance regulating golf carts in 2009, has had no problems with the carts or their owners.
Wanatah’s ordinance requires golf cart drivers to be over the age of 16 and have a valid driver’s license to operate the cart on town streets and alleys. Proof of financial responsibility must be posted on the cart or in the driver’s possession, and a slow-moving vehicle sign must be displayed.
The ordinance also states headlights and taillights that can be visible from 500 feet must be used from dusk till dawn, that the golf carts only be used on roads with a 30-mph speed limit or less and that they not be operated on any state or national highway except to cross it. The number of persons in the cart can’t be more than the number of factory-installed seats it has, and no part of any person can be outside the cart.