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Golf cart zones could be coming to a road near you

If proposed legislation passes, you could cross over — into the golf cart zone.

State Sen. Mary Margaret Haugen, D-Camano Island, is pushing legislation, Senate Bill 6207, to allow cities and counties to create specified golf cart zones, which would allow people to drive the little vehicles on certain roads.

And the bill’s not just for golfers tooling around with a bagful of clubs. Haugen said such legislation will also help people stay mobile as they age.

“It’s really one of those bills that’s important when you look at the demographics of the population,” Haugen said Thursday morning.

The legislation would give local jurisdictions the chance to create specific zones on roads and highways where the speed limit is 25 or lower. The legislation allows jurisdictions to also place time limits on when golf carts could be allowed on roads, Haugen said.

Two cities in Washington, Orting in Pierce County and Liberty Lake in Eastern Washington, already have regulations allowing golf carts to be driven on city streets during the daytime.

The legislation stems from a suggestion made by one of Haugen’s constituents, Tom Cahill of Freeland. He said several of his elderly friends used a golf cart to move around the neighborhood and attend nearby events. Then, his friends were advised by a deputy not to drive the carts on the roadway unless they were upgraded. However, he said the upgrades to the carts would be costly.

“We thought it was a very green way to solve our problem,” Cahill said. He added that Haugen and her staff were very helpful in developing the legislation.

Island County Sheriff Mark Brown expressed reservations about the proposal, saying he had hoped the legislation would include language requiring golf carts to carry equipment that would qualify them as “street legal.” That means the golf carts should have brake lights, tail lights, mirrors and turn signals. He said such equipment is crucial for golf cart drivers to alert other motorists of their presence and intentions.

“I would think that cities and counties would be very skeptical to allow this,” Brown said of the proposed golf cart zone.

Haugen has introduced the golf cart zone proposal on the Senate floor, but she didn’t know when it would come to a vote.

If approved, then it would be left to residents to lobby local governments to approve specific areas where golf carts can legally drive on the roads.

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