Is It Safe to Drive Golf Carts on Arizona Roads?

A popular – and economical – mode of transportation for Arizona snowbirds is to travel around on a golf cart. With 18-inch wheels, two seats, and a top speed that barely hits 25 miles per hour, who can blame them? Especially as gas prices continue to soar.

In 2018, there were 38,000 golf carts registered with the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles, which does not represent those on private property. One could reasonably assume that number has gone up. Registered golf carts are allowed on roadways as long as certain conditions are met – in fact some golfing residential communities even provide a designated “golf cart lane” on certain streets. But, even if it is permissible, the increase in the number of golf carts begs the question, are golf carts really that safe on Arizona roads? The Consumer Product Safety Commission says not so fast. It estimates an average of 10,000 golf cart related injuries happen every year. And the injury rate for adults age 65 and older is 2.5 times higher than the standard. 

Like any vehicle on Arizona roads, golf cart drivers need to meet certain criteria in order for them to be legal. And it starts with how the law defines golf carts. Keep in mind that insurance policies may or may not cover golf carts.  Golf cart owners should check their policy and/or speak with their insurance agent to ensure appropriate coverage exists prior to hitting the links.

How Arizona Law Defines Golf Carts

Arizona law defines golf carts as vehicles with at least three wheels, weighing less than 1,800 pounds, holding up to four passengers, and traveling no more than 25 mph. If a golf cart is manufactured to travel at a speed higher than 25 mph, it will not comply with the law. In addition, golf carts are limited to only public streets with a posted speed limit of under 35 mph. Golf carts meeting these criteria are regulated by state laws in Arizona.

Licensing and Insurance Requirements for Golf Carts 

It is legal to share the roadway and drive golf carts on public streets, but there are some requirements that need to be met. If you plan to drive your golf cart on a public road, the Arizona Department of Motor Vehicles requires you to register it as a low speed vehicle (LSV).

Drivers must obey all standard driving laws and have a valid driver’s license to operate golf carts on roadways. You must also carry liability insurance: a minimum of $15,000 in property damage insurance and $25,000 per person in bodily injury insurance and $50,000 liability per accident.

Golf Cart Safety Tips

Golf carts simply aren’t as safe as the cars they share the road with. The assumption that since golf carts don’t travel very fast that it decreases your risk for serious injury is inaccurate for a few reasons. For one, golf carts pose a high risk of rolling over, and given there isn’t much to contain you inside, drivers and passengers can be easily ejected. And two, because of the lack of protection and smaller size of golf carts, a collision can be similar to that of what happens with motorcycles. The larger vehicle typically prevails and the riders of the golf cart face a much higher risk of serious injury or death. These golf cart safety tips can help before you hop in and take off. 

  1. Make sure it has working headlights, tail lights, brakes, brake lights, and a horn. Arizona law exempts the windshield requirement that applies to other vehicles.
  2. Be aware of high density areas, such as popular neighborhoods and retirement communities, which can cause further concerns for injury. 
  3. Because golf carts can tip easily, take corners, inclines, and declines slowly.
  4. Avoid driving a golf cart under the influence of alcohol or anything that can cause impairment.
  5. Do not exceed the recommended number of passengers, which is four. 
  6. Obey all traffic laws and avoid or minimize any distractions.
  7. Keep all body parts in the golf cart and wear seat belts if it’s equipped with them.
  8. Fully engage the parking brake and remove the key before leaving the golf cart. 
  9. Use extra care and reduced speed when driving in poor conditions, rough terrain or uneven surfaces.
  10.  During lightning, stay away from your golf cart and golf clubs. 

Contact Bache & Lynch if You’ve Been Injured in a Golf Cart Accident

Although they may seem like a giant toy, golf cart safety should be taken seriously. Follow these golf cart safety tips to keep you, and everyone around you, safe. If you were involved in an accident involving a golf cart, or wish to discuss the specifics of your case (including what your insurance does and doesn’t cover) in a free consultation with an experienced Tucson personal injury lawyer who has handled previous golf cart cases, please contact us today.