Beaufort News

Beaufort police urge golf-cart drivers to follow the rules

Martha Chaplin carefully pulled her golf cart to the side of Madrid Road in Port Royal on Tuesday when a pickup truck came up behind her.

"I try to get out of their way because I'm not the fastest thing in town," she said.

Local police want all golf-cart drivers to show such caution, especially as more of them hit the road during the warmer weather and longer days of spring.

While off duty and driving his personal vehicle recently, Beaufort Police Chief Matt Clancy witnessed a golf cart towing a skateboarder by a rope on Battery Creek Road.

They waved for him to pass him, but instead Clancy pulled over, pulled out his badge and told the 20-year-old driver and 16-year-old skateboarder that an officer was on the way.

The towing adventure ended with a citation for careless operation of a motor vehicle for the driver, and a pedestrian-in-the-roadway citation for the skateboarder. Clancy said he wasn't trying to quash their fun, but he was worried about their safety on a well-traveled road with a 35 mph speed limit.

The S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles requires owners to register their carts. It costs $5, but drivers also must have liability insurance. The department was unable to provide statistics on the number of golf carts registered in Beaufort County.

State laws prohibit golf carts on major roads or highways, unless the driver is crossing the street from a smaller, secondary road. Carts should only be driven during daylight, and operators must have valid a driver's license with them, which means children are not allowed behind the wheel.

Underage cart drivers concern the Port Royal Police Department; a few years ago, a pre-teen flipped a golf cart and was hospitalized, authorities said.

Accidents can prove fatal.

Last June, Anita Kay Bergeson, 37, of Knoxville, Tenn., was killed when she fell from a cart and struck her head as her boyfriend made a left turn onto Cypress Hollow from Col. Thomas Heyward Road in Sun City Hilton Head, according to the report.

A similar incident occurred on Daufuskie Island in 2008, when Alex Yearick of Mount Pleasant fell off the passenger side of a cart one night when his friend turned left onto a paved road near Bloody Point. He died the next day at Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah. A toxicology report indicated he had alcohol and cocaine in his system.

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