Driving a golf cart in a public place can provide a lot of fun for the owner and their family.
However, states use age restrictions to limit who can drive a golf cart. Understanding these restrictions – and other critical legal elements – ensures that your cart use is as safe as possible.
Golf Cart Driving Restrictions Vary Based on the State
The unique thing about golf carts is that you often don’t need to have a driver’s license to take your cart out in public.
However, you will need one if you plan on driving the cart on public roads.
So the minimum age restrictions here will vary in a variety of ways.
For example, most states have a limit of 14 years for children who want to ride golf carts on public land.
However, some states do allow children of 13 to drive a golf cart in this way.
So make sure to research this fact before getting on a cart.
Just as importantly, you need to make sure that any child riding on a golf cart on the road has an appropriate driver’s license.
Most of the time, this age is set at about 16 in most states.
And any time a child goes out on the road using a cart, they need to follow appropriate driving restrictions.
Since most drive around 15-25 miles per hour, you may have to add a “Slow Moving Vehicle” sign to the cart to ensure driver safety.
And you must also make sure that the vehicle is properly registered and licensed before anyone takes it on the road.
Most states that allow golf carts on public roads, you’ll need to adjust the vehicle to make it road ready.
The child driving the cart doesn’t need to make these tweaks, nor do they have to own the cart.
However, they will need permission from the owner to drive the cart.
Private Property Laws are Different
Although age restrictions do limit who can take carts in public areas, private driving laws are much different.
For example, most states don’t restrict the age of a person driving a cart on private land.
In their eyes, as the landowner, you take responsibility for the behavior and safety of anybody driving carts on your property.
Therefore, state and federal officials don’t try to control cart use in these areas.
Some parents take advantage of this situation by teaching their children to drive safely on carts on their private property.
This lack of restrictions creates a unique operating situation for most golf carts.
For example, a child under the minimum driving age could take a golf cart out on their parent’s property without legal issues.
However, they couldn’t take the cart out on a golf court, even though it is private property.
Simply put, a golf course is considered a public area – in spite of being privately owned – and teens under the minimum age cannot drive a cart.
Most golf courses will check into this fact before they rent out a cart.
And parents who let their teens drive golf carts on private property should take steps to ensure their child’s safety.
For example, higher-quality brakes are a great idea as are seat belts.
These protective items will ensure that your child doesn’t get injured while driving a golf cart. And if they do get hurt, you may get a call from Child Protective Services about why you let a young child drive a half-ton vehicle.
All Other Laws Apply to Golf Cart Driving
If your teenager plans on driving your golf cart in public places, you need to make sure that they follow all traffic laws.
Golf carts – though they don’t move that quickly – are a motorized vehicle, which means that they are restricted in the ways that they can be used one you’re on the road.
For example, anyone driving a golf cart on the road needs to follow all traffic signs.
Like other small motorized vehicles – such as scooters and motorcycles – a failure to meet these laws could result in legal trouble.
So make sure that you stop at all stop signs, yield signs, stop lights, and more.
Pedestrian crossing laws are particularly relevant to follow, even if the cart won’t cause excessive injury to most people during an accident.
Just as importantly, golf carts have to use turn signals to indicate where they are going and must follow appropriate speed restrictions.
These limitations are unique to golf carts – in most states that allow golf cart road use, you cannot drive them on streets with speed limits above 35 miles per hour.
This restriction is necessary because most golf carts can’t drive over 20 miles per hour, and riding on faster roads would be dangerous to the cart owner and other drivers on the road.