So far this school year, multiple police reported golf cart accidents have occured in the Starr’s Mill complex. This information alone raises the issue that there is a problem. And these incidents don’t stand alone.
Golf cart collisions happen nearly daily while leaving or arriving to school. These minor “bumper car”-like incidents are often brushed off until more severe accidents occur.
So what’s the problem? Why so many accidents? It’s pretty obvious if you ask me. Most golf cart drivers are inexperienced and don’t take driving seriously.
To obtain a golf cart parking pass at Starr’s Mill, a student simply provides a learner’s permit and golf cart registration. This is in compliance to Peachtree City and Fayetteville laws regarding golf carts.
To operate a golf cart in Peachtree City one must be either at least 12 years old and accompanied by a licensed adult, or have a learner’s permit to drive alone. Unincorporated Fayetteville has adjusted its laws to match this only after the addition of the golf cart parking lot in the Starr’s Mill complex six years ago.
“When our golf cart parking lot got built there was a problem in exactly what you described — the rules for driving in Fayette County were different than the rules for driving in Peachtree City,” Principal Allen Leonard said. “My understanding was the Fayette County Commission changed the rules for driving a golf cart in Fayette County after we started getting that expansion.”
With the construction of the Starr’s Mill golf cart parking lot in 2012, Fayetteville lawmakers were persuaded to adjust regulations to match those in Peachtree City to account for the many Starr’s Mill students who drive their golf cart from Peachtree City to school in Fayetteville.
Initially, to legally drive a golf cart in Fayetteville, one was required to have a driver’s license or if 15 with a learner’s permit, drivers required to be accompanied by an adult with a driver’s license. This was the same as the laws that apply to driving a car.
Fayetteville’s initially stricter laws regarding operating golf carts were a smart move. Although they may have been inconvenient for some Starr’s Mill students, they would have made the roads and paths at least in the Mill’s complex safer.
Now to drive a golf cart alone in Peachtree City or Fayetteville one basically needs zero experience. It’s only required to have passed a written test regarding road signs and laws that pretty much only apply to driving a car. It seems that Fayette County takes golf cart regulations just as seriously as the teenagers that drive them.
In addition to the lenient laws, there is a major disconnect between golf cart drivers and the actual danger of operating a golf cart. Yes, top speed may be 20 mph but a collision with a car, a tree, or another golf cart at that speed isn’t a joke, especially since golf carts rarely have seat belts, have no doors, and are light and prone to flipping.
They are not cars, so they are not taken seriously.
Until Fayette County lawmakers step up to address the problem or golf cart drivers realize the responsibility that comes with driving, the frequent accidents will continue.
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