Is a Golf Cart a Car?

Golf carts or, to be more accurate, golf cars maybe carry the name car, but they are different from cars in many aspects. These differences come not only in design but in legal aspects. However, we all see these vehicles from time to time on the roads. So how is this possible? Let’s find out.

Is a golf cart a car? The answer is no, but the golf car can be transformed into a low-speed vehicle (LSV) and be used on public roads. The main thing that distinguishes golf carts from cars is speed and safety regulations. 

Golf cart on a parking lot

So, if you wish to learn more about how you can transform your golf cart or buggy into a vehicle that can be driven on the road, keep reading and find out.

What is a Motor Vehicle, and What is a Golf Cart?

So we have established that a car is not the same as a golf car (or a cart or a buggy). A car is defined as a motor vehicle that runs on four wheels and is used on roads to transport a small number of people. Commonly, cars transport five to six people, but there are cars that can transport a bigger number. On the other hand, buggies are defined as self-propelled vehicles, just like cars, that are used for transporting golf players on the greens. Aside from the definition of these two vehicles, there are numerous differences between them. Here are the main ones.

Golf cartCar
Can not go above 20 mphIt can go above 20 mph
Usually, they are powered by electricityUsually powered by gas
Used to transport two peopleCan transport more people
Don’t have airbags, seatbelts, and other safety measuresHave all the safety measures required by a low
Motors are not that powerfulHave more powerful motors
It can’t be driven on public roadsThey are used for public road transportation
You don’t need a license to drive itYou need a license, permit, and other legal requirements

What is a Low-Speed Vehicle?

As you can see, the differences between cars and buggies are big, and maybe a better comparison should be made between buggies and low-speed vehicles. Low-speed vehicles are four-wheeled self-propelled vehicles whose maximum speed must be between 20 and 25 mph. Opposed to buggies whose speed can not exceed 20 mph. Most low-speed vehicles can be driven on public roads that don’t exceed a speed limit of 20 mph. LSVs are usually used for groundskeeping, yard work, campus safety, and more. And even though these vehicles are allowed on some public roads, they are not as safe as regular cars. For instance, they don’t have airbags. If we compare LSV and buggies, the biggest difference is in the safety equipment, so when you purchase a buggy from the store, it will not be considered an LSV until the following criteria are met:

  • They must have seat belts,
  • Turn signals,
  • Windshield wipers,
  • Headlights,
  • Must be registered for driving on public roads,
  • Slow Moving Vehicle triangle with tag light,
  • Electric horn,
  • Exterior mirrors
  • Top speed higher than 20 mph, less than 25 mph,
  • Visible sticker that says: “This vehicle must not be operated on the public roads at speed more than 25 miles per hour,”
  • DOT mandated safety accessories,
  • Must be properly insured, titled, and tagged with a VIN.

What are Neighborhood Electric Vehicles?

Neighborhood Electric Vehicles are LSVs that people use to get around their communities. These are powered by rechargeable batteries and have a smaller carbon footprint, making them popular among environmentally conscious families. Also, NEV is used a lot in retirement communities by elderly people. To drive them on the street, you must have all the requirements LSV must have. 

Family standing by the LSV

Is It Safe to Drive LSVs and a Golf Cart on the Street?

In terms of safety, LSVs are much safer than buggies to be driven on the street. LSV has at least some safety requirements, such as seat belts and lights. On the other hand, buggies don’t have any of those requirements and can not be driven on the open road. In terms of general safety, both vehicles are safe to be driven on the golf course, even though some rules must be followed to prevent reckless driving.

Although LSVs are allowed on the street, they are not considered your best choice for the open road. These vehicles are much harder to control on the curves. Regular motor vehicles are a much safer option for driving on the streets. However, you can use LSV to run small errands around your neighborhood, such as groceries shopping. Just keep in mind that even though these vehicles are LSV, you will follow all the rules of traffic for the safety of all drivers. 

Man driving golf cart

Safety Tips for Driving Golf Carts on the Streets?

If you transform your buggy into LSV, you will be able to drive it on the street with a speed limit of 20 mph. However, even though driving an LSV on the street can be a lot of fun, you will need to be extra careful. The first safety precaution you must take is to wear a seat belt at all times. As you know, most of these vehicles don’t have doors, so you are at great risk of falling out of the vehicle. Another safety measure is to use all the traffic rules and make sure you don’t put other drivers in danger. For instance, driving under the influence of alcohol is strictly forbidden.