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OFF BEAT: Motorists may need to start seeing golf carts


Gas prices and eco-friendly inclinations are driving more cities nationwide to allow golf carts to putter down their public streets, raising safety and risk management concerns.

Cities from Kentucky to Minnesota have recently joined or are considering joining other cities and states that expanded the legal use of carts beyond the golf course and retirement community over the past decade, according to recent news reports.

But some observers worry that mixing the lightweight carts — sans air bags — with faster-moving trucks and large sport utility vehicles could prove hazardous.

States allowing golf-cart type vehicles to roam streets are carving out exceptions to life-saving safety regulations and years of work by insurers, automakers and the federal government to make driving safer, states a 2010 report from the Insurance Institute For Highway Safety.

In response, cities are adopting regulations and making safety advice available. Some, for example, are allowing their operation only during daylight hours, limiting the number of passengers they carry, and advising drivers to avoid sharp turns.

Others are requiring the carts to display slow-moving emblems — as if other drivers might confuse them with a capable sports car.

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