In January, those wanting to drive their golf carts on the streets in Thomson will need to abide by the city’s new motorized carts ordinance that goes into effect with the start of the new year. Persons wanting to operate a golf cart on designated streets within the city will first need to apply for a permit for the cart from the Thomson Police Department and pay a $15 registration fee. The registration will be valid for 24 months. Every person operating a cart much have a valid drivers license or instruction permit issued by Georgia or another state. Children over the age of 12 and up can drive if accompanied in the front seat by a licensed family member or legal guardian. “We can enforce it right away, but we generally give out warnings for the first month or so,” said Thomson Interim Police Chief E.J. Bess. “That’s probably what we intend to do — give everybody the chance to come into compliance and come up here, pay the $15, get it inspected, and get the sticker.” The ordinance defines a motorized cart as “an electric or gasoline powered motor vehicle, having four wheels and an unladen weight of 1,300 pounds or
less, commonly called a golf cart, which is not designed for speeds in excess of 20 mph and designed to carry a maximum of six persons.” The application asks for owner’s name, home address, phone number, date of birth, drivers license number, make of golf cart, model year, color, and whether gas or electric. The owner must also show minimum liability insurance of “not less than $25,000 because of bodily injury to or death of one person in any one accident, and, subject to such limit for one person, $50,000 because of bodily injury or death of two or more persons in any one accident, and $25,000 because of injury to or destruction of property.” The carts, with proper registration decal displayed, will be allowed to use most city streets but are not allowed on streets for which the posted speed limit is over 35 mph. They will not be allowed to travel on state roadways, however they can cross over state roadways. The minimum requirements a cart must possess are: •a braking system •a reverse warning device •a main power switch •a windshield •head lamps •tail lamps •a horn •a rearview mirror •hip restraints. The ordinance does not require carts to have turn signals, however City Attorney Jimmy Plunkett said state law requires turn signals when a cart is operated between sunset and sunrise. The ordinance specifies that it “shall not be construed to authorize the use of off-road vehicles or all-terrain vehicles on designated streets or in public recreation areas.