Video report courtesy of CBS 5 – KPHO
With the increasing popularity of street legal golf carts it was only a matter of time before carts were used as a convenient taxi service in our towns and cities. Street legal golf carts are cheap for the operator to run and small enough to dart through traffic making journey times shorter.
In Scottsdale, Arizona, golf carts are being used as a convenient way to get party-goers from bar to bar and to drive them home. They can only accept tips as payment as they are not a licensed taxi cab that can accept fare paying passengers. But some residents, and taxi drivers in particular, are raising concerns that the carts are dangerous as they have been seen to run red lights, are often overcrowded with passengers and even have drunken passengers try to ride on the cart's roof.
"Passing red lights, don't stop, don't respect stop signs," said local cab driver Sergio Lopez, describing their behavior.
Lopez has taken some dash-cam footage of the carts in action and says that the golf carts must obey the law like everyone else on the road. Aaron Lipson, owner of Bunny Rides, started the golf cart transport business in Scottsdale.
"We're an easy, effective way to get to the next club," he said, "It's the nature of the beast sometimes, you have people who get on your golf cart that get a little rowdy at times."
He thought Lopez was a little mad that the golf carts are taking away his business, and to a certain extent he has a point. But watching some of the driving on the video we can understand why Lopez is concerned about safety. The carts are only required to have seat belts on the front seat, and with the carts carrying up to 10 people that's a lot of passengers who don't have the opportunity to use one. The passengers are often rowdy, due to their drinking, and we all know that this can lead to lapses in common sense leading to such dangerous activities as moving to a different seat in the cart or riding on the roof.
Drunken passengers aside, running red lights and disobeying traffic laws is the responsibility of the driver and this sort of behavior will only result in a severe accident. Scottsdale police report that they have issued two to three times more citations to the golf carts than they have to the taxi cab drivers, so they are being monitored. But it only takes one accident, which due to the exposed nature of a golf cart will probably result in severe injuries, for the authorities to step in and take action.
Golf carts are extremely versatile vehicles and are finding uses beyond those for which they were originally intended. That's not a bad thing for the golf cart industry, but owners and drivers must take responsibility for their passengers or the powers that be will have no option to pour cold water on all the fun.