SatBeach golf-cart owners seeing a smoother ride in permit process

Satellite Beach has made it easier to get street-legal golf carts safely on the road, via streamlined regulations and local inspections.

New rules allow residents a cheaper way to prove that they are properly equipped to operate on residential streets with speed limits under 25 mph.

Rather than go through a cumbersome and costly state registration process for a license tag as an official slow-moving vehicle – including the need to trailer the golf cart to Titusville for the inspection and to have it weighed – Satellite Beach police now have a decal system for which they inspect the converted golf carts for compliance with state safety regulations.

Satellite Beach Police Cmdr. Brad Hodge, a resident of Melbourne Beach, went through the trouble and expense of converting his cart under the state process. As a result, he helped write the Satellite Beach ordinance to help “streamline” the process, most notably with the local inspections. He already has been a part of about a dozen inspections. The initial inspection cost is $150 and renewal each year is $50.

“The inspection process is exactly the same’’ as the state’s, with inspectors making sure all equipment is in good working order, he said.

Requirements include headlamps, stop lamps, tail lamps, front- and rear-turn signals, windshield, seatbelts at each seat, side view mirror on driver’s side and interior mirror if not on both sides, parking brakes, side reflectors, horn and slow-moving vehicle emblem. Only for drivers age 16 and older, top speed for golf carts is set at 25 mph.

While Satellite Beach may now be considered golf-cart friendly and have its own decal system, abuses of golf carts over the years are well known, such as being overloaded or driven by younger kids or erratically. Police say they are not going to look the other way on infractions or required safety equipment, and now, with a decal or state tag, have a way to enforce the rules.

“It has to be one of the two, either state tag or Satellite Beach decal. If it’s not compliant, we’ll certainly take enforcement action,’’ Hodge said.

Staying busy these days installing all the safety equipment for the state law is Robert Cochran, owner of East Coast Custom Golf Carts, 1243 Harbor City Blvd., Melbourne. To make a sale, he sometimes dedicates a worker to getting golf carts through the nearly full-day state registration, an extra paid service for which he tries to only break even.

He is pleased to also do the modifications for Satellite Beach residents – minus the red-tape – as long as the end result is golf carts being as safe as possible. His bigger safety concern is in the community of Viera, where golf carts can be driven on sidewalks in developments designed as “golf-cart friendly,” and can be used by drivers age 14 and without safety equipment.

For more information on the regulations and the Satellite Beach registration process, visit the web site satellitebeach.org.

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