PAnews.com, Port Arthur, Texas

Port Arthur

November 13, 2013

Ask a Cop: State law allows golf carts on city streets — sometimes

— Concerned Citizen asks: Officer Antoine, my question is why are golf carts allowed on the streets? They were made for golf courses and sidewalks, not streets. Motorcycles are safer because they go the speed limit and meet street requirements, but licensed 16 year olds are driving those golf carts. Golf carts hold up traffic and young children, often five at a time, are driving and riding around in them. Could anything be more dangerous? Night-time visibility is horrible. What's going to happen when some poor driver hits one or kills several young children around the age of 10 years old? They are a nuisance and need to go back to the golf course, beaches and parks. It's jail time, lives ruined and lawsuits waiting to happen for some innocent person.

Answer: Golf carts are allowed on the streets because the law allows golf carts to be on the roads of Texas — with limitations, of course. First, the golf cart must have a slow-moving emblem on the rear (orange reflective triangle). It sounds like the community in which you reside has a huge problem with golf carts. Concerned citizen, because of the passion you are addressing this issue with, I hope you have contacted your local police department with your concerns. Furthermore, this will lead me to believe that you are not a citizen of Port Arthur because we don't have a big golf cart problem, and no one has made a recent complaint about golf carts violating the rules of the road. The city of Port Arthur does not have an ordinance for golf carts, but we are governed under State Transportation Code which allows for golf carts to be operated on a road within two miles to and from a golf course only in the daytime. Golf carts are not designed to make trips to the stores or pick up children from school, etc. I don't understand why parents are allowing young children to operate these carts on the road. You are right, it’s just a bad accident waiting to happen. Now keep in mind Concerned Citizen, Texas cities may also pass ordinances that allow golf carts to be driven on streets within their jurisdiction, but the golf cart must be insured and be equipped with head and tail lamps, reflectors, mirrors and a parking brake. Additionally, you do not need a driver's license to operate a golf cart.

Angela from Port Arthur asks: Officer Antoine, I am aware that hand signals are OK to use when operating a motorcycle, but how about when driving a car? Can someone use hand signals from a car to signal intent to turn?

Answer: Good question Angela. Yes, hand signals are still valid from a motor vehicle as long as you use the appropriate signal continuously 100 feet before making a turning action. The driver should make sure their arm is extended out far enough for other motorists to recognize their intended actions. The three signals are: arm pointed straight out means "turning left," arm in a (L) position pointing up means "turning right," arm position pointing down means "you are slowing down or stopping.” If your signals are not working properly,  do not attempt to operate your vehicle at night because your hand signals may not be seen by motorists on the road.

Joyce from Port Arthur asks: Officer Rickey, my complaint is legitimate! On Sheppard Avenue (the street that runs between 39 street and Highway 73 feeder road), most of the residents put their trash cans in the street for trash pick-up. Placing their trash cans in the street instead of placing them behind the curb of their lots makes it impossible to drive on the street if there is oncoming traffic. You must either stop until the oncoming traffic passes or move to the right and take a chance on hitting a trash can and destroying the side view mirror on your car. Moving to the right is what I attempted and it did destroy my side view mirror — which I had to replace to the tune of $300. Insurance did not cover it because of a $500 deductible. After this happened, I inquired about there being some kind of law requiring people to keep their trash cans out of the street, and I found there is a city ordinance that says you must keep your trash can behind the curb in the yard, if your street has a curb. The entire street of Sheppard is curbed, but nearly the entire street puts their trash cans in the street. I travel this street often and my question is why can't these residents be given notice that they are breaking the law? Or is this ordinance a law that needs to be enforced?

Answer: Very good question Joyce. I'm so sorry to hear you had an out-of-pocket expense because someone placed their trash can on the road instead of on their property per city ordinance. You are right, that all residents with a city issued trash can should place their cans on their property and not in the street. The city of Port Arthur ordinance states, “At the collection time, home owners should position for collection of garbage. The position for collection for all residential garbage containers shall be one of the following: In the front of the customer's premises between the street and sidewalk; on the city's side of the ditch, or on the customer's side of the curb, unless otherwise specified by the superintendent.” Joyce, hopefully this article will serve as a warning not only to residents here, but city wide. I will contact the appropriate authority to look into this matter.

Join Officer Antoine for "Ask A Cop" live, on KSAP 96.9 FM, "The Breeze" radio station, every Tuesday from 1 p.m. to  2 p.m. You can also tune in via internet at www.ksapthebreeze.org. Feel free to call in and ask your question live to Officer Antoine at 409-982-0247.

Remember to email your questions to rantoine@portarthurpd.com, or call 409-984-8541 and leave a voice mail question, or mail them to: Ofc. Rickey Antoine 645 4th Street, Port Arthur, Texas, 77640.

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