Golf carts were initially developed for golfers who wanted to travel around the golf course with less effort than walking. According to wikipedia, they were built to carry two golfers and their golf bags around at safe, low speeds.
But consider that load. Couldn’t that just as easily be a couple and their groceries? Or a mother and her child and school supplies? Who wouldn’t have a use for a vehicle with those specifications? Why use the Land Rover for a job that doesn’t need any capability besides going from point A to point B with a bag?
Unless you live in a sprawled out suburb, a golf cart or “neighborhood electric vehicle” might be a pretty handy vehicle for you and your family. There’s no reason golf cart vehicles should be limited in the ways they can be used. As most city dwellers know, vehicles with a low top speed and high agility are perfectly serviceable for most travel within the confines of a busy neighborhood. Plus, many states have different laws for the usage of golf carts and other small vehicles that make them more accessible to use.
The laws vary from state to state, but in South Carolina, a $5 permit and proof of insurance is all that is required for a licensed driver to use a golf cart during daylight hours. Some communities designed for travel by golf cart or neighborhood electric vehicles allow young people and people without drivers licenses to operate golf carts. In most places, golf cart usage is not allowed on roads or intersections with speed limits of 35 mph or higher.
Some communities are designed with golf carts in mind. Ohio island town, Put-in-Bay, for example, is a community that embraces golf carts. The island where it is located is only a few miles across and nearly devoid of any rough terrain. Most people who reside or regularly visit the island have a golf cart for their travels, because golf carts work better as clean and reliable transportation in compact communities. Golf carts are also preferable on the island because they pose less danger to tourists and pedestrians than a full size vehicle. Even at low speeds, a golf cart is less damaging to a person than a full sized car because of its limited mass.
There are even some great fuel economy advantages to using smaller vehicles for local transportation. According to 30A Custom Cart Rentals, charging most of these vehicles just requires an electric outlet. They say, “Since neighborhood electric vehicles and golf carts are charged like any other electric motor, they can be charged off of solar panel charging units. Think about how great it would be to have free gasoline for your in-town travels. That’s practically a reality with a solar panel and a neighborhood electric vehicle.”
There are some people who argue against the usage of golf carts as general usage town vehicles, though. Golf carts are not meant to withstand crashes involving things other than pedestrians and other golf carts. Golf carts are not usually equipped with the modern safety technology that allows mainstream cars to collide more safely, so a collision between a full size vehicle and a golf cart could be disastrous. Some drivers do not like sharing the road with golf carts because golf carts may accelerate slower than mainstream cars. “Smart” cars, or cars that are designed for travel with two people and limited cargo for urban settings, are better equipped to handle these challenges and are probably going to be preferable to a golf cart in suburban settings where car travel is higher speed.
Overall, whether or not a golf cart should be left on the golf course or used for your more general purposes is largely a question of where you live. If you live in a small town or urban environment, check with your DMV to find out what laws apply to golf carts and neighborhood electric vehicles in your community.