By CASSIE MCKEE, Four Points News
It’s not uncommon to see young people driving golf carts through the streets of Steiner Ranch.
While it may be an easy way to get around, there are some rules golf cart drivers need to be aware of to ensure their safety and the safety of others.
“Parents who permit their children to operate a golf cart are responsible for following HOA rules and state laws relating to golf carts, and educating their children about them,” said Steiner Ranch HOA communications coordinator Meredith Hamrick.
She said the HOA has received five complaints regarding minors driving golf carts on sidewalks over the past year.
“The only golf cart incident the HOA is aware of occurred within the UT Golf Club community several years ago,” Hamrick said.
In River Place, golf cart driving outside of the River Place Country Club has also gotten the attention of the community.
“There have been a number of concerned homeowners addressing teenagers driving at night without lights and or acting carelessly,” according to River Place HOA Chairman Scott Crosby.
He said to his knowledge there have been no injury accidents involving golf carts on the road, however, he does remember two golf carts driven by minors colliding a couple of years ago.
The River Place HOA does not have any homeowner restrictions regarding the use of golf carts.
“Our understanding from the county is that (drivers must) follow city rules, which require no specific requirements for the cart but that the driver must be licensed,” Crosby said.
The Steiner Ranch HOA requires that all private golf carts, which include all golf carts except those belonging to UT Golf Club, must be registered with the HOA. As conditions of registration, owners must show proof of ownership, proof of liability insurance, and be current with their HOA assessments and not be in violation of any other HOA rules. The registration sticker should be displayed on the top corner of the passenger side windshield.
The Steiner Ranch HOA rules regarding the operation of a private golf cart are as follows:
• The operator must have a valid driver’s license,
• The operator is subject to Texas law and must observe safe driving principles at all times,
• The number of passengers is limited to the number of seats (one person per seat, regardless of age),
• Golf carts must adhere to all posted speed limits and obey all traffic signage,
• Private golf carts may not be operated on any portion of the golf course,
• Private golf carts may only be operated on paved streets within Steiner Ranch,
• Private golf carts may not be parked on any private street within Steiner Ranch,
• Private golf carts utilizing any parking lot must be parked within the designated areas for automobile parking,
• When not in actual use, private golf carts must be stored in the garage of a residence,
• Private golf carts must be properly lighted between the hours of sunset and sunrise,
• Animals shall in no event be transported in a private golf cart,
• All private golf cart passengers must remain seated during operation of the golf cart.
Failure to comply with the rules may result in suspension of registration.
Hamrick said in terms of enforcing HOA golf cart rules, residents are encouraged to use the “report a problem” tool via the HOA website.
“Our office (will) send noncomplying homeowners a reminder regarding rules relating to golf cart use within the community,” Hamrick said. “If there are additional complaints regarding the same issue with the same homeowner, a fine is sent.”
She said the difficulty is that residents reporting golf cart issues may not know the address of the user of the golf cart, which inhibits the HOA from sending a reminder or fine.
“Law enforcement has advised association staff to not approach minors due to liability issues,” she said. “Should a resident see anyone operating a golf cart within the community which they feel violates state law, they are encouraged to contact local law enforcement.”
The Steiner Ranch HOA has invited Texas Department of Public Safety to make a presentation to the community regarding statutes which govern golf carts on the road within the Transportation Code. DPS will make that presentation at the next SRMA Board meeting which will take place at Towne Square Community Center on July 26 at 6 p.m.
Texas rules about golf carts
According to the Texas Transportation Code, an operator may operate a golf cart in a master planned community that has in place a uniform set of restrictive covenants and for which a county or municipality has approved a plat; on a public or private beach; or on a public highway for which the posted speed limit is not more than 35 miles per hour, if the golf cart is operated during the daytime and not more than two miles from the location where the golf cart is usually parked and for transportation to or from a golf course.
The Texas Department of Transportation or a county or municipality may prohibit the operation of a golf cart on a public highway if the department or the governing body of the county or municipality determines that the prohibition is necessary in the interest of safety.
State law also says that golf carts must have the following equipment: headlamps, tail lamps, reflectors, a parking brake and mirrors.