Thomson is nearing the adoption of a new ordinance which would set standards for driving golf carts on local streets. The ordinance will also be the basis for police to begin work to get ATVs off the streets of the city.
“The ordinance as a whole is going to get rid of the ATVs for one thing, which people know they can’t have. But if they want to ride around in a recreational vehicle, they cannot go over 20 mph. So that is going to leave the golf carts that you can ride around,” said Police Chief Anson Evans. “And, it’s in compliance with Georgia law as well.”
The first reading of the proposed ordinance was done at last Thursday evening’s Thomson City Council meeting.
“The first reading is more or less an official or even dropped. After a second reading, the council can vote to adopt a proposed ordinance.
The council has for sometime been discussing such an ordinance and Police Chief Anson Evans and Jimmy Plunkett, city attorney, have been working together to craft the appropriate wording.
“What it does is it requires a permit to operate a golf cart on city streets,” said Plunkett. “There are certain things that a golf cart has to do, such as not exceed 35 mph, several things. So, it’s going to regulate those.”
Plunkett said the problem the city has been having are golf carts and utility vehicles that travel at the higher speeds on city streets.
The ordinance will allow operation on city streets, but not on state highways.
“We can’t give permission to do the stuff on state highways,” he added.
Carts will be allowed however to cross state highways to get from one city street to another.
The ordinance will set requirements for what will be termed as personal transportation vehicles (PTV).
The city will define that as any motor vehicle with a minimum of four wheels, capable of a maximum level ground speed of less than 20 mph, with a maximum gross vehicle empty weight of 1,375 pounds and capable of transporting not more than eight people.
The PTVs will have to be registered with the Thomson Police Department. To be registered, the vehicle must be compliant with local and state law. If so, a registration decal shall be issued from the department.
Requirements for registration would include:
•Only those persons 18 and older may register a PTV.
•The person registering the PTV must be the owner.
•The TPD issued registration decal must be plainly visible on the PTV.
•Registration application will be done on a city form and must contain the name and address of owners; model, make, name and identification number of the vehicle; current drivers license number and list of all authorized drivers; and possibly additional information.
•Application must be accompanied by proof of personal liability insurance coverage.
•Registration shall be effective until revocation or the vehicle is transfered to another owner.
•The owner must take responsibility in making sure the information of the application remains current and accurate.
There will also be a $15 registration fee.
The proposed ordinance has 14 operation regulations. Most are in regards to driving maneuvers such as staying off sidewalks, not driving between lanes of traffic, abiding regular traffic regulations, and only being operated by persons with a valid drivers license and on the approved list of drivers as listed in the application.
The proposed ordinance also includes “All PTVs are entitled to a full use of a lane on the authorized streets and parking areas of the city and no motor vehicle shall be driven in such a manner as to deprive any PTV of the full use of a lane.”
The ordinance will also include a mandate that registered PTVs have safety devices including:
•A braking system and a parking brake
•A reverse warning device
•A main power switch
•A rear mirror
•Safety warning labels
•Hip restraints and hand holds or a combination thereof.
Violation of the ordinance can result in a first offense fine of not less than $50; second offense fine of not less than $100, and revocation of the registration after the third offense. The registration can also be revoked after a first or second offense if the fine is not paid in a timely manner.
Chief Evans said PTVs that are not legal on the ordinance and are driven on the road can be impounded.
“If they’re not registered with us, then those are the ones we are going to write and tow,” Evans said. “At that point, you’re not supposed to have them on the street.”