Golf Carts allowed on village roads

Starting May 1, the roads in St. Joseph will get a little more congested.

The village board recently passed an ordinance allowing golf carts to be driven on the roads in St. Joseph.

With some restrictions.

“This whole ordinance was built around safety,” said Trustee Jim Wagner.

“Safety was paramount,” agreed Trustee Anthony Laubscher.

The idea of  golf carts being allowed  within the village was first broached when Laubscher was the chairman of the Public Health and Safety Committee.

When Laubscher moved to chair the Streets and Alleys Committee, Wagner became chair of the Public Health and Safety Committee as well being the point person for the golf cart ordinance project.

The village ordinance states that any person who operates a golf cart must be 21 years of age and possess, on their person, a valid driver’s license and the driver must possess proof of liability insurance that meets the minimum requirements of the state.

The village is only allowing golf carts be driven from sunrise to sunset and carts must have its headlight and tail lamps lighted at all times when operated on the village streets.  Golf carts can not be driven on village roads when the weather prevents the driver from seeing 500 feet and they may not be operated on sidewalks, village parks or other village property except streets.

Golf carts within the village have a speed limit of 25 MPH and must pull over to the right side of the road and stop to yield the right-of-way to approaching traffic from behind.

Golf carts are not allowed on Rt. 150 except to cross at Second and Fifth Streets. Carts are not allowed on Main Street except to cross at Old Grand and Lincoln Streets.  Carts can cross Sherman Street only between Main and Elm Streets. Carts can only cross Sportsman Club Road at Grand Avenue and Elm Street, south of Sherman Street can only be crossed at James and Douglas Streets.

The village did a lot of research before deciding where to allow drivers to cross roads. If the village had not designated crossings drivers could have crossed on any road that was 35 MPH or lower.

By designating the crossings, Wagner feels it will be safer for drivers.

“We took the roads we had to stay off of and evaluated the traffic where it would be the lightest,” Wagner said. “For example, Third Street near the library, there is just too much action there and we decided not to make that a crossing.”

Golf carts driven in the village must have a working horn, brakes and brake lights, turn signals, steering wheel, tires, rearview mirror and a slow moving vehicle emblem.

The carts must have headlights that emit a white light visible from a distance of 500 feet to the front which must illuminate when in operation, a tail lamp that emits a red light visible from at least 100 feet from the rear which must be illuminated when in operation and red reflectorized warning devices in the front and rear.

“Everything that is in the ordinance, it follows the state statute and then we added seat belt,” Wagner said.

Golf carts that have been modified to go faster than 25 MPH are not allowed on village streets and drivers must wear glasses if the cart does not have a windshield. All passengers must also wear seat belts.

St. Joseph resident Darrell Lee had his cart inspected by Wagner on April 28.

He told Wagner had the had to have the seat belt added to his cart but he thought they were a good idea.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “It’s safety, we want everyone to be safe.”

Lee said he was excited to have his cart inspected and be able to drive it within the village.

“They are fun to drive,” he said.

In order to be authorized to be driven on village streets the cart must be inspected by either Wagner, Laubscher or Luke Fisher. Inspections can be scheduled by contacting village hall at 217-469-7371.

After a cart passes inspection, a sticker will be placed on the rear of the vehicle. Inspections have to take place yearly and there is a $20 fee for the inspection.

Each person who drives the cart needs a permit, Wagner said.

The permit application will include the name and address of the applicant, the name and address of their insurance carrier, the serial number, make, model and description of golf cart, proof of insurance and proof of drivers license. The permits cost $40.

The applicant must also sign a Waiver of Liability that releases the village from any liability if the driver has an accident.

If a person breaks any of the laws in the ordinance they will be fined $100 for the first offense and $300 for the subsequence offenses within a one year period. The village can also revoke the permit of the driver.  

The ordinance will be enforced by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Department, Wagner said. They can either be given a moving violation or an ordinance violation. The moving violation will go against the driver’s license while an ordinance violation revokes the driver’s golf cart permit for 30 days and they must pay a reinstatement fee.

The village’s goal is to have the program be self funding and not cost any tax dollars.

Wagner said he thinks village residents are excited about the prospect of using golf carts within the village.

“It’s family fun,”  Wagner said. “It almost brings the community closer together. When you are driving a vehicle around town you don’t really stop and talk to people but if you are driving a golf cart around town you can stop and socialize.”

Laubscher agreed.

“A golf cart is wide open,” he said.  

Laubscher said his children and their friends love riding in his family’s golf cart.

“There are so many kids on my street you have to go and do a lap then switch the kids out,” he said. “They have an absolutely great time.”







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