The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) lays out regulations that any vehicle used on the streets must follow to comply. Therefore, golf carts you see on the roads are probably street legal. So, what are the qualifications? This article covers the major features of a street-legal golf cart.
What Is a Street-Legal Golf Cart?
Golf carts considered street-legal are equipped with features that make them safe to drive in low-speed zones (where the speed limit is below 35 mph) like campuses, retirement homes, or city centers. Also, it means the cart can be driven legally on most public roads. Legal golf carts can also be referred to as low-speed vehicles (LSVs). Still, not all golf carts qualify as LSVs.
The need for street-legal golf carts was raised to allow for usage in areas that are against the use of golf carts on the streets. That means, in some areas, you can operate a golf cart without worrying if it is street-legal.
Primarily, golf carts are meant for use on golf courses. Converting them to street legal gives them more usage flexibility. This conversion entails changing and adding elements that the DOT uses to identify vehicle safety on the streets. In doing so, they become an essential mode of transportation for golfers and ordinary people looking for an affordable, versatile, and fun way to move around.
Features of a Street-Legal Golf Cart
Requirements for street-legal golf carts vary depending on the state. The following are the common or standard features required in almost all states.
Safety is the top consideration when converting a golf cart to be street legal. While regular vehicles come equipped with essential parts that make them safe, golf carts overlook some of these features due to the nature of their usage. These features include:
- DOT-approved windshields – The windshield has to be sturdy for protection and transparent for clear visibility.
- DOT-approved wheels – Acceptable tires have to be non-directional and turf-safe.
- Retractable seat belts – The seat belts also have to be DOT Safety Certified. The length and material of the belt also matter.
- Rear and side-view mirrors – There is not much requirement for mirrors, as long you can see clearly, and they are all-weather and corrosion resistant.
- Headlights, tail lights, brake lights, and turn signals – Lights come in all forms. When considering safety, check with your supplier to ensure they are DOT-approved.
- Horn – A horn is a necessity.
The best part about these items is that they can be added easily to a golf cart that lacks them and make it street legal. If a golf cart is equipped with these items, it becomes a safer mode of transportation for you and other road users.
When buying a street-legal golf cart or converting an existing one, you also need to consider power sources. This is because driving an ineffective golf cart on the streets can get quite frustrating.
Most users opt for battery-powered, electric golf carts. Since electric carts are quieter, last longer, and require minimal maintenance, they make the perfect street golf carts. A battery-operated golf cart can go up to six miles before needing a recharge if it’s fully charged. That is a lot of distance for a low-maintenance vehicle. More so, these batteries can last up to eight years with proper maintenance.
Other requirements for a street-legal golf cart are not directly related to safety or power source. These are control measures used by traffic authorities.
These requirements include:
- Vehicle Identification Number – A 17-digit code used by DOT to track road-ready vehicles
- A lighted license plate bracket – The light helps the DOT identify the plate number, if they have to, in low light conditions.
- Golf cart insurance – Street legal golf carts have to be insured like vehicles for various covers. Certain insurance covers are also mandatory for non-street legal carts.
- Driver’s license – While not a requirement in all areas, traffic officers might ask for a license in case they suspect a miss.
- Minimum age for golf cart driver – Minors are generally not allowed to drive golf carts in most states. This ties to the previous requirement on driver’s licenses since licenses are permitted after a certain age.
Laws on the ownership and usage of golf carts in the U.S. vary based on various factors. For instance, the laws are lenient and inviting in states where golf is more of a lifestyle, like Florida and California.
Allowing the usage of golf carts on public roads poses challenges and opportunities. This is the primary reason states establish regulations to combat accidents caused when driving an unroadworthy vehicle. Luckily, the DOT and other transportation authorities are promoting the usage of golf carts in the streets as long as they meet the requirements. The features we have listed in this article should get you started. Make a point to delve deeper into the requirements based on your state since they might vary.
LUXE Electric Car
LUXE Electric Car is the only Luxury, Custom Electric Golf Car manufacturer in the Coachella Valley.
Not only does LUXE Electric Car custom build them right here in the desert, but their showroom, located at 74-125 Hwy 111, Palm Desert, is open and ready to help you decide what style and extras you want for your next new golf cart.
As one of the leading electric golf cart companies in the United States, they are also trailblazers in innovation, including the power plants. Seeing the future in power shifting from Lead Acid Batteries to Lithium, LUXE Electric Car can not only fit your new car with batteries that need no maintenance, a warranty of five years, and change life of up to 100 miles between charging, but they can retro-fit existing carts with Lithium Batteries.
To contact us – LUXEElectricCar.com