Registration begins May 1 and the forms can be turned in to the Villa Rica Police Department, where a free registration sticker will be given to be placed on the vehicle. By signing the registration form, golf cart owners are testifying to the fact that their vehicle is outfitted with all the required safety equipment and can be fined if they are found lacking any of those requirements.
Mike Williams, a Mirror Lake resident and proponent of the golf cart ordinance, said he’s had several neighbors ask him about the specifics of the ordinance and there seems to be a lot of confusion about how much outfitting the carts to meet the city’s specifications will cost.
“With the 12 requirements that the city has asked for I would venture to say that 90 percent of these carts already have 90-95 percent of these things that are required,” Williamson said. “I’m getting phone call after phone call or people stopping by the house asking me about it.”
One source of confusion seems to be the hip restraint requirement, which many believe means seat belts and most golf carts don’t come equipped with seat belts. However, city officials explain that hip restraints only refer to the metal bars that typically sit on the outside of the bench seat of a golf cart and usually are standard for all golf carts.
“If you look up hip restraints online it actually shows a bar, but it’s not a seat belt,” Villa Rica Police Chief Michael Mansour said. “Most of these things do come standard, but there are things they are going to have to add.”
Some city officials have heard that it will cost as much as $4,000 to outfit standard golf carts to road ready and even though they acknowledge there will have to be some modifications made they don’t believe the cost will be more than a few hundred dollars.
“I have no idea where that number came from,” Freeman said. “I think it will only be a couple hundred dollars.”
Even though seat belts aren’t required, they are encouraged for the safety of passengers.
“When I did my research on other cities that allow golf carts they didn’t require seat belts, but they definitely encouraged them,” Community Development Director Taurus Freeman said. “When driving on a city road we think it would be the smart thing to do, to have seat belts because one of my main concerns is smaller children on golf carts.”
Besides hip restraints, other required safety features that must be included on a golf cart driven on city streets include are a braking system, parking break, reverse warning device, an on/off switch or key, two operating headlamps, brake lights, a horn, rearview mirror, safety warning label, hand holds and a charge indicator. Gasoline- or propane-powered vehicles would also need a speed indicator device, a gasoline or propane leak indicator and an exhaust system.
According to Mansour, the list of requirements on the city’s registration form is straight from the state’s minimum standards for personal transportation vehicles to be used on city streets.
Golf carts will be allowed on city streets with a speed limit of 25 miles per hour or less. Crossings for state highways and other streets with increased speed limits have yet to be set up, but the city is working on a plan to do so.
“We have identified several golf cart-ready communities and we are working on a plan that will connect golf cart communities with other communities,” Freeman said. “We’re deciding on a route to get people throughout the city to a more centralized location, which will probably be our downtown area.”
The registration form can be printed from the city’s website at www.villarica.org. Currently, the button to open the registration form is located on the left side of the main page under “important information on golf cart registration and form.”