August 2, 2013

Maine crashes put focus on loose golf cart rules

Safety controls are scattered at a time when more of the slow-speed vehicles are operated off golf courses.

By Eric Russell
Staff Writer

(Continued from page 1)

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Camille and Wes Wolfertz of Long Island wave as they drive their golf cart away from the Long Island dock after a trip to the mainland for supplies Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

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A Long Island sign encouraging people to share the road with the multiple vehicles, including golf carts. Photographed on Thursday, August 1, 2013.

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer

Additional Photos Below

City spokeswoman Nicole Clegg could not immediately provide figures on the number of registered golf carts on Portland's islands. The last reported accident involving a golf cart occurred in May 2012.

Voters on Long Island, a separate town in Casco Bay, decided several years ago to allow golf carts on the island's roads, said Town Clerk Brenda Singo.

In its most recent count, Long Island had 135 golf carts. The island's population is just over 200 in the winter and swells to about 1,000 in the summer.

Singo said she was not aware of any reported accidents involving golf carts.

Frye Island passed a similar ordinance in 1999, requiring registration for carts that are used on public roads. A town employee could not provide the current number of registered carts on Thursday.

The ordinance lists practices that are prohibited, including driving without a rearview mirror and driving by anyone without a valid driver's license.

But there are no regulations for the carts themselves, which can vary widely, said Farina, of Country Club Enterprises.

Tuesday's accident on Frye Island involved a limousine-style golf cart with several rows of bench seating, said Police Chief Rod Beaulieu. He said his preliminary investigation suggested that the brakes failed to slow the cart as it gathered speed going downhill with seven people on board.

In his six years as chief, Beaulieu said, he had never dealt with a golf cart accident involving serious injuries until this week.

Farina said most golf carts made today are electric, not gas-powered, and have engine braking to help slow them down. Golf carts that are manufactured as "street legal" are equipped with seat belts and roll bars.

Those carts have bigger motors and can go as fast as 25 mph, Farina said. Prices can range from $2,000 to more than $10,000 for a new cart; used models can cost less.

"These vehicles are safe," he said, "but when you have people using them in different ways and when you add alcohol to the mix, bad things can happen."


Eric Russell can be contacted at 791-6344 or at:

Twitter: @PPHEricRussell


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Additional Photos

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Wes Wolfertz of Long Island loads up his golf cart after making a trip to the mainland for supplies Thursday, August 1, 2013

Shawn Patrick Ouellette / Staff Photographer


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