COVINGTON - The Covington Police Department will be issuing decals and inspecting golf carts beginning Monday to those who wish to drive them on approved city streets.
The Covington City Council approved an ordinance Nov. 3 allowing golf carts to be operated on designated city streets, but residents are required to make an application in person at the Covington Police Department to obtain a permit. The charge will be $15 and the permit is effective for five years.
"Our job is to enforce the ordinance, and we're going to be managing the decals and the inspection of the golf carts," CPD Sgt. Wendell Wagstaff said.
Included in the list of city council approved streets are Mill Street, College Avenue, Floyd Street, Legion Drive, Usher Street, Elm Street, Pennington Street and Newton Drive, among others. A map showing a complete list of approved streets for driving golf carts is available at the police department, as well as a copy of the ordinance showing those streets that are not approved. Only those streets preapproved by the Covington City Council are eligible for golf cart use.
No streets that are also considered a state highway can be used for golf carts, and Wagstaff emphasized that no golf carts will be allowed on the Covington Square, as three sides of the Square are on a state highway.
If a resident desires to cross a state highway, application must be made to the City Council to have a crosswalk designated on that highway by the Georgia Department of Transportation.
Wagstaff said residents should drive their cart to the police department to obtain their decals, provided that it is not necessary for them to cross a state or federal highway to do so.
"We'll allow them to come to the police station in order to obtain the decal, but we don't want them breaking any laws," Wagstaff said. "If they have any questions about that, they should call us. If there's a situation where they can't drive to the station, they'll need to come by here to get an application, fill it out and then an officer can meet them at their residence."
Roadworthy golf carts should be equipped with windshields, turn signals, brakes, a horn, headlights, brake lights, safe tires and if gas-powered, an exhaust system.
Also, once the decal is issued, residents will need to make sure proper signage is on their street and should call the office of the police chief at 770-786-4425 to request a sign.
"If they want their streets included, they need to notify the chief's office so they can get the proper signs out there," Wagstaff said. "The signs are to show golf cart drivers where they can drive, but they're also a warning for drivers of vehicles that golf carts are known to frequent that path."
Wagstaff said golf cart drivers need to be aware that all traffic laws pertain to them.
"They need to understand that golf carts are considered a motor vehicle. They can be arrested for drunk driving on it. They can be arrested for reckless driving on it," Wagstaff said. "They can not drive them on the sidewalk. They will be cited if we see them driving on the sidewalk. They have to have a driver's license or an instructional permit with a supervising adult, just like a car."
One thing that doesn't apply to golf carts that is mandatory for drivers of cars and trucks is insurance. State law does not require that a person have insurance on their golf cart, but according to area insurance agents, don't expect vehicle or homeowners insurance to take over on any theft or liability.
A separate policy is required and rates vary from company to company. Estimates were given ranging from $75 to $400 a year.
"We're just asking that golf carts be respectful to the cars and trucks and that cars and trucks be respectful of the golf carts," Wagstaff said.
Anyone with any questions should call Wagstaff at 770-385-2147 or Cheryl Vaughn at 770-785-7605.
Barbara Knowles can be reached at barbara.knowles@newtoncitizen.