SURF CITY — Surf City Town Council has reversed its decision to allow golf carts to operate on the town’s roadways.
Following a public hearing Tuesday night, the board unanimously rescinded an ordinance adopted in November giving golf cart operators an option to drive on streets where the speed limit is posted 35 mph or less.
Last month the council suspended the ordinance and asked the Surf City Police Department to research potential safety concerns and impacts to the department, which would inspect and issue permits to cart owners.
Surf City Police Maj. Ron Shanahan looked at five beach towns that allow golf carts to operate on roads.
One of those towns, Carolina Beach, has had “numerous incidents” since enacting a golf cart ordinance in 2008, he said. But other towns, including Pine Knoll Shores, where more than 200 carts are registered, and Caswell Beach, where only 12 carts are registered, reported no injuries.
Shanahan cited a 17-year study released in 2008 by the Research Institute at the Nationwide Children’s Hospital that logged 148,000 golf-cart related injuries. A May 2010 Consumer Products Safety Commission report stated that there are about 15,000 golf cart-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year.
“Based on the information, the chief and I feel the cons outweigh the pros,” Shanahan said. “The cons are generally safety. They are not crash worthy. Golf carts were not designed for safety or general road use. They will generate more citizen complaints and therefore possible road rage incidents. Golf cart enforcement will take valuable time away from officers’ daily duties.”
Surf City Police Chief Mike Halstead said it would take a minimum of 30 minutes to inspect one golf cart for the purpose of issuing a town permit. He also said his officers predict golf carts would impede summer tourist traffic.
“I think this would be a nightmare for us,” he said.
Surf City resident Ron Wiese said he was concerned about traffic congestion during summer months, when the town’s population generally triples. “I think it would only amplify existing problems,” he said. “As the police department said, they’re going to get the brunt of this.”
Golf cart owners whose carts are “street legal” may continue to drive on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or less.