Local

New rule would require permit to drive golf carts in St. Johns County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla — St. Johns County parents might have to start keeping a closer eye on their golf cart keys. This week, the Board of County Commissioners heard a new ordinance to raise the minimum age to drive golf carts on the roads to 18.

The rule would require drivers 18 years or younger to have, at least, a learner’s permit, while drivers 18 or older would only need a state-issued ID. Right now, you only need to be 14 years old, with an ID, to drive a golf cart.

Some parents, like Melissa Brennan, aren’t rolling with the change.

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“Why would we want [our daughters] to drive a golf cart when they’re learning how to drive a car?” Brennan says.

Brennan’s used her golf cart to get her kids ready to drive a car, but she worries the new age restriction would take away this training. If anything, she thinks the minimum age should be lower.

“I think 13 is a good age with with a 2-hour safety class so the kids know how to drive,” says Brennan.

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The proposed amendment would line up the county’s golf cart rules with Florida law. Back in May, Action News Jax told you when a bill was signed to raise the minimum driving age from 14 to 18, with the exception of a learner’s permit or driver’s license.

Brandon Harrison, who sells golf carts at Ponte Vedra Golf Carts in Nocatee, says the change would be a much-needed step in keeping kids safe.

“They’re young and inexperienced so they’re not thinking safety first.” Harrison says, “So, absolutely I’ve noticed kids zipping around all the time.”

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Harrison says most golf cart crashes he’s seen in the area have involved kids in the driver’s seat.

“I don’t want to see anybody get hurt, especially when it could be prevented,” says Harrison.

Action News Jax has been following the issue of golf cart safety for kids in St. Johns County over the last few years. Last year, we found records from the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office showing a number of recent crashes involving incapacitating injuries and even a death.

It’s the reason some, like Harrison, worry the younger the drivers, the more risk on the road.

“Without some proper training, you’re putting your kids in harm’s way,” Harrison says.

But Brennan says it’s not just kids at risk, and nobody should steer away from safety.

“I’ve seen adults do the same things, they’re just as bad.” Brennan says.

Action News Jax reached out to the St. Johns County Sheriff’s Office to ask how the rule would be enforced, if passed. We’re still waiting to hear back.

The next meeting for the board of county commissioners is on December 5, when the rule could be brought up for a vote. Action News Jax will let you know when this happens and if it’s approved on air and online.

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