This is the blog for Robert Vincent, Chief of Police for the Gulfport (Florida) Police Department. Please feel free to leave comments, but keep in mind that anything appearing on this page may be subject to retention and disclosure in accordance with Florida public records law.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Golf Carts Revisited

The City Council has agreed to have another discussion on whether to allow golf carts to operate on public roadways. I will be making a brief presentation based on some documents that I have prepared.

Essentially, my position is that I am professionally opposed to the operation of golf carts on municipal roadways for the following reasons:

  1. The closing speed between golf carts and other traffic will be too fast. The 85th percentile speed on many of our roads is approximately 30 mph, with many vehicles travelling near 35 mph. The maximum speed for a golf cart is 20 mph, with many only capable of reaching 15 mph. That leaves a potential closing speed of at least 10 mph and as much as 20 mph.
  2. Golf carts do not have safety features equivalent to those in motor vehicles. With an open body, studies from the US Consumer Products Safety Commission, University of Alabama, and others have shown an increased risk of passenger ejection. The vehicles typically do not offer shoulder restraints, and unless required by local ordinance, hip restraints are not even standard. There are also no head restraints to protect against whiplash, nor are there airbags as on most cars today.
  3. Slow moving carts create a condition more dangerous than bicycles or scooters because they occupy more of the travel lane. A motor vehicle operator can take an evasive maneuver to pass a bicycle or scooter even with the presence of oncoming traffic. This is not possible upon approaching a golf cart. The only option would be braking, and if there is insufficient stopping distance, a collision will occur.
  4. We do not possess the qualification to declare any of our roadways safe for the operation of golf carts. By doing so, we accept a responsibility and risk previously relegated to the state. This significant risk to all of our citizens is not outweighed by the minor benefit to a few of our citizens who are simply seeking a way to avoid the cost and inconvenience of the current state registration process for low speed vehicles.

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