With our southern climate temperatures and plenty of golfing, retirement, residential, and Gulf coast communities across our state, golf carts are a common sight on many of the roads of Mississippi. But if you own a low-speed vehicle (LSV) in the Magnolia State, you may be asking: Can I drive a golf cart on the road in Mississippi? Before taking your vehicle on a public street, make sure you follow all state, federal, and local laws for safe golf cart use.
Is It Legal to Drive a Golf Cart Around Town in Mississippi?
In Mississippi, golf carts and LSVs may be driven on city roads if the municipal government allows it. State laws allow golf carts to be used on certain types of roads and under certain conditions. Local lawmaking bodies may further regulate the use of golf carts on public roads in their area of jurisdiction.
For example, many cities like Ocean Springs have allowed golf carts and LSVs to be operated on city streets with posted speed limits of 30 miles per hour or below. And while the city of Starkville has municipal laws concerning the use of golf carts and LSVs, the Mississippi State University campus has differing restrictions on the same types of vehicles. Be sure you comply with all local rules before driving your golf cart around town.
A vehicle operator must have a valid driver’s license (or valid temporary learner’s permit) and proof of financial responsibility provided that the governing authority of a city or town has authorized the use of golf carts and LSVs on public roads and streets. Golf carts and LSVs may be taken on the same roads that allow bicycles. The vehicle should be driven in the far outside lane of multilane streets whenever possible. Golf cart operators needing to traverse highways must cross at the shortest traveling distance. It’s unlawful to operate a golf cart on state or federal highways.
How Old Do You Have To Be To Drive a Golf Cart in MS?
Unlike a few other states in the nation, Mississippi requires all golf cart drivers to carry a valid driver’s license or learner’s permit. This means that to be legally permitted to drive a golf cart in Mississippi, a driver must be at least of legal driving age.
What Makes a Golf Cart Street Legal in Mississippi?
All golf carts or LSVs must be registered with the city before they can be driven on public roads. You will be required to pay an administration fee of a reasonable amount that the government agency has determined in order to do this. You must also present your driver’s license or temporary driver’s permit and proof of financial responsibility at the time of registration. You must carry this documentation with you every time you drive your golf cart or low-speed vehicle.
When registering your golf cart, you will receive a registration decal issued by the county or municipal tax collector. This decal must be displayed on the left rear fender of the vehicle. It will be valid as long as you are the registered owner. You will also receive a city map indicating which roads you can travel on in your golf cart.
Before registering your vehicle, you must make sure that it meets the required definition and standards. A golf cart must be a motor vehicle designated and manufactured for operation on a golf course for sporting or recreational purposes. A golf cart must at least be equipped with a parking brake, headlamps, taillights, seat belts, and turn signals in Mississippi. A low-speed vehicle is any four-wheeled electric or gasoline-powered vehicle that has a top speed of 25 miles per hour.
By federal law, all low-speed vehicles must have certain safety equipment and meet specified standards to operate on public roads. Requirements include:
- Front and rear turn signal lights
- Tail lamps
- Brake lights
- Red reflex reflectors on the rear and sides
- An exterior-mounted mirror on the driver’s side along with an interior or passenger-side mirror
- A parking brake
- A windshield meeting federal safety standards
- Federally approved tires, safety belts, and windshield wipers
- A Vehicle Identification Number (VIN)
- A horn or another sound alert
Other federal laws set forth by the U.S. Department of Transportation regulate LSVs’ testing procedures and speed requirements. All the abovementioned safety standards are in place to ensure that these vehicles are not a hazard on the road, whether to the vehicle occupants themselves or the occupants of other larger passenger automobiles sharing the road.
How Often Do Golf Cart Accidents Happen?
Riding in a golf cart or low-speed vehicle has numerous benefits. There are many circumstances under which individuals may prefer to rely on their golf cart for transportation instead of driving a car. In addition to the golf course setting, golf carts have made their way into multiple other areas of our lives and have become a transportation staple. It’s not uncommon to find people using golf carts to get around retirement and other planned communities, beachfront towns, outdoor shopping plazas, and suburban neighborhoods. In Mississippi, many of our coastal cities and college campuses take advantage of our warm-weather climate and make golf cart travel a regular part of daily life.
Accidents can happen when golf carts and other small LSVs share the road with cars, trucks, and sports utility vehicles. Despite the requirements for golf carts, not everyone has or uses essential safety devices like seatbelts while driving these open-air vehicles. And, due to the smaller size and lower visibility, it’s easy for the driver of a larger car or truck not to see and strike a golf cart on the road, especially when turning.
There are safe ways for high- and low-speed vehicles to use the same roadways, but motorists don’t often prioritize safety. Negligence can lead to a disregard for safety and an accident that results in severe injury to one or more parties. If you were hurt in a golf cart accident in Mississippi, reach out to our Jackson personal injury lawyers at Pittman, Roberts & Welsh, PLLC. We’ll set up a free consultation on your schedule to discuss your case. Our skilled attorneys may be able to help you win compensation if your accident was caused by another person’s negligence.