Golf cart ordinance considered in Elkhart County

Published: Feb. 17, 2016 at 5:37 PM EST
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Cars, trucks and buggies may not be the only vehicles on the road in Elkhart County.

The County Commissioners are considering an ordinance which would allow limited access to golf carts on certain roadways.

"We've actually had some discussion on and off for the last year, year and a half," said Tom Byers, Elkhart County Administrator. For some time now county officials have noticed an increased popularity of golf carts in some of the area's larger subdivisions.

"Technically that is not legal," Byers explained that although many people drive around their neighborhood in the leisure carts, there's nothing in the county law that says they can do so, "I think because of that and the growing interest is why we wanted to take a look at it and say, okay, if this is a rowing trend and this is what people want to do, lets at least try to accommodate it."

The proposed ordinance would restrict golf cart use to just unincorporated parts of the county on non-numbered county roads, essentially limiting them to subdivision streets.

Byers said they want to keep golf carts off the numbered county roads because speed limits can exceed 45 to 55 miles per hour, "we're not quite ready to allow additional slower moving vehicles out on those roads," Byers added.

"You can cross a county road to get to another subdivision but you can't drive along another numbered county road," said Elkhart County Commissioner Frank Lucchese.

The town of Bristol already introduced a golf cart ordinance in 2009. The ordinance was designed to allow cart drivers to travel on certain roads between sunrise and sunset with lights, mirrors, turn signals and safety belts. Since then, only nine carts have paid the annual $25 registration fee with the town.

Other restrictions included in the unincorporated Elkhart County ordinance include no driving between sunset and sunrise, no driving on sidewalks or bike paths, and all carts must be equipped with rear view mirrors and turn signal lamps.

So far, county officials said they've heard primarily positive reaction to the proposal. On March 7, the commissioners will open the topic up for public debate to see what people like, dislike, and are concerned about regarding cart safety.