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Slow Ride: Safety Laws for Low-Speed Vehicles

You’ve seen them all around Walton County, and maybe you even own one – the glorified golf cart.

Often featuring off-road wheels, a premium stereo and multiple rows of seating, these sporty little rides are in some ways an unofficial vehicle of vacation at the beach. However, in reality, they aren’t actually traditional golf carts that you’d see on a golf course. Rather, they’re what are known as low-speed vehicles (LSVs).

If you plan on using an LSV during your stay in Walton County, it’s important to learn all the distinctions and rules that apply. First of all, remember that these are considered legitimate motor vehicles, meaning they are street legal. LSVs have all the primary components of typical road-worthy cars and trucks – including a license plate, seat belts, turn signals, brake lights, reflectors, headlights, mirrors and a D.O.T. windshield.

And when it’s time to hit the road, here are some driving laws to make note of:

  • Operators must be at least 16 with a valid driver’s license
  • Never allowed on pedestrian pathways
  • Can only be driven on roads with posted speed limits of 35 MPH or less
  • No open containers of alcohol – not even the passengers
  • No more than the maximum designated number of passengers allowed
  • Seat belts required by law to be worn by all passengers at all times

Due to the casual nature of LSVs, there can be a tendency to be a little more lax when operating them, but the laws apply regardless of how far you may be driving. Particular attention should be paid to children’s safety. While it may seem easiest to have them pile onto the back bench or sit on your lap, they must be fully secured while driving – as with other motor vehicles. Any child that would normally use a booster or a five-point harness car seat is required to use one on an LSV.

Specific laws apply even when you’re not driving. While LSVs have the advantage of being more compact and maneuverable than the average car, that doesn’t mean they can be left wherever they fit. LSVs can only be parked in spots designated for other motor vehicles. This excludes parking in front of driveways, on private property or in any marked No Parking zones. Whether you own the LSV or are renting, you’ll be responsible for any fines incurred.

Keep in mind that all these laws of the road are meant to keep you and your loved ones safe. They are simple enough to follow, so be sure to take a few minutes to double-check before you head out for a bite to eat or a trip to the sugar-white sand.

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