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Published on: January 4, 2017

Driving golf carts illegally on roadways could ruin it for everyone

By DANA DITTMAR

Hillsborough Public Works repair Upper Creek Drive cart path.

He didn’t exactly say “I’m from the government and I’m here to help…” but that’s precisely what he did. I didn’t even get his name, but he and his polite co-worker climbed down from his really big truck and proceeded to grind down displacement bumps in the golf cart path along Upper Creek Drive last Tuesday.

These guys were from the Hillsborough County Public Works Department.  I’d been bending County Commissioner Stacey White’s ear for a few weeks, letting him know how rough the path had become. White was right on it, having a crew come down before Christmas to make it safe for the holidays and sending down another crew last week to do more work.

There is one section that needs to be replaced completely, and they already have a work order in place to do that very soon.

Why is this so important and why am I writing about some county employees just doing their job?  Because I use that path almost every weekend, and every time I use it, I see other golf cart drivers using the street instead of the path. I “get” why. The path was uneven enough to jar your teeth, and some folks were injured getting jostled out of their carts.

But driving on Upper Creek Drive is illegal. If Deputy Merry or any of his band of Merry men catch you, it could cost you up to $580. Why so expensive? It’s $168 just to get caught with your golf cart on the roadway. Plus, once you drive on Upper Creek, you have to adhere to all motor vehicle laws. It could get expensive. No vehicle registration means a court appearance. No vehicle insurance is a fine of $103. No seat belts in the vehicle means another $103. Add another $103 for no windshield wipers, another $103 for improper lighting on the rear of the cart. But that’s not the part that bothers me. Hey, if you do the crime, you pay the fine.

What bothers me? Those folks who continue to drive on that street and abuse our golf cart laws could cost all of us to lose the privilege. As I’ve said many times before, if we lose the right to drive our golf carts in Sun City Center, at least four business will go under, and all of you with carts will have a very expensive paperweight sitting in your garage and no one to sell it to.

It’s a very real possibility. Just two weeks ago, three people were killed in the Tampa Bay area when their cart was hit by a car. Yes, it was at 2 a.m. when they shouldn’t have been out (yet that happens here, too), but whenever there’s a horrific accident like that one, the Florida Department of Transportation takes a close look at communities with these privileges.

I can’t thank White enough for his prompt attention to our safety and his constant and continued attention to the needs of us here in southern Hillsborough County.  It’s great to know we have his ear.

So please don’t let his good works be in vain.  Please get off the street and onto the newly smoothed golf cart path the next time you’re headed to Bubbaque’s or Bealls. Not only will you save yourself $580 but you’ll be helping us save our golf cart privileges.

And next time someone says “I’m from the government and I’m here to help,” maybe they really are.

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