Owning golf carts has become commonplace in Chatham County, Ga. Unfortunately, for most residents, the use of those vehicles away from the golf course is for the most part illegal. At least, for now.
Residents are fighting a state law that prohibits the use of golf carts and similar vehicles on public roadways (except in communities that adopt specific ordinances), according to this comprehensive report from the Savannah Morning News. An updated version of the law that went into effect in July has caused more people to be pulled over by police while driving these "personal transportation vehicles" and Savannah-area residents are not happy.
County Commissioner Helen Stone says she's probably received more letters complaining about golf cart restrictions than any other issue.
"I think I've gotten close to 50 emails urging us please to look at something to allow golf carts, especially in the area of Isle of Hope," Stone said.
Lawmakers argue that driving golf carts is a safety issue. The smaller vehicles generally don't have features like turn signals and seat belts.
Residents argue golf carts help cut down accidents, deter crime, and play a big role in the area's social scene.
"It's very much become part of the lifestyle out here," said resident Jeremy Summerell. "We live on an island where we don't have a lot of traffic."
Stone said areas with lower speed limits, less traffic, and smaller roads could see the use of golf carts on public roads legalized sooner, but it won't be for awhile.
"It's going to take a little bit of time," Stone said. "I hate for people not to be able to use them. They're environmentally friendly. They're a good way for people to socialize and be out. . . . But we've got to look at all of the safety issues surrounding the situation."
So there's hope for the Isle of Hope in its golf cart crusade. In the meantime, keep it to cart path only if you don't want any trouble with the authorities.