Crash Course: Golf Carts Eyed for New Regulations in South Carolina

By: Bridget Clerkin December 22, 2017
With golf cart crashes taking a toll on South Carolinians, a state senator is eyeing legislation to require driver's licenses and registrations for the vehicles.
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Dealing with cars may be par for the course for the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), but a new type of ride may soon be making its way to the fore of the agency’s lines.

Golf carts could face stricter regulations in the Palmetto State, thanks to a newly introduced piece of legislation.

Penned by state Senator Stephen Goldfinch (R-Georgetown), the bill would call for all golf cart owners—including individuals and companies—to register their vehicles with the DMV and pay a licensing fee. The proposal also requires all golf cart drivers to have a driver’s license.

The idea behind the law is to start a conversation about highway safety, especially in the beachside towns often home to a myriad of golf courses where tourists and retirees typically favor the airy transportation option, Goldfinch said.

Golf cart-related harm is a serious issue in South Carolina, with several deaths stemming from golf cart-related crashes this year alone. Data collected over the past 32 months from Horry County—home of vacation hotspot Myrtle Beach—also showed 75% of accidents involving the vehicles over that period of time resulted in hospital admissions; 13% of those admissions were to an intensive care unit.

The issue is that the slow-moving vehicles putter along major roadways at leisurely speeds, often causing a wedge in traffic flow that can lead to expansive jams—or extensive injuries. Current regulation of the transportation is lax, and the vehicles are often operated by an unlicensed minor—or an inebriated adult.

Without license plates, there’s little to no way for police to enforce roadway rules on the carts, but Goldfinch is hoping the law changes that fact—and creates more accountability behind the wheel of the vehicles.

Owners would also be on the hook for registration fees, which could cost as much as $50 per golf cart—a figure that would add up to quite a bit for large resorts, rental companies, or golf courses in the area.

Earmarked for work on roadway improvements, the money would also generate more tax revenue for the state—giving South Carolina a whole new way to see the green.

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