In a 4-1 vote, the Waxahachie City Council adopted an ordinance regulating the use of golf carts, neighborhood electric vehicles, and off-highway vehicles on public streets at its Monday, Nov. 15, meeting. Mayor Pro-Tem Billie Wallace was the dissenting vote, citing safety concerns.
Waxahachie Police Chief Wade Goolsby presented the item for discussion at the briefing session and regular meeting, and said the proposed ordinance clarified confusion created by the state law concerning operation of these vehicles. The city’s ordinance makes the rules the same for each of the vehicle types. State statutes give municipalities the ability to adopt their own rules related to these vehicles.
The item was first discussed at the council’s Sept. 30 work session held at Community National Bank and Trust.
Under the ordinance, residents can operate these types of vehicles under certain conditions:
• Vehicle operators must have a valid driver license and carry insurance.
• The driver and occupants must be seated in seats intended to hold people.
• Vehicles are required to have headlights, taillights, reflectors, a parking brake, mirrors, a slow-moving vehicle emblem, and seat belts.
• Seat belts must be used by the driver and occupants.
• Vehicles are not required to have license plates.
• Vehicles can only operate from dawn until dusk.
These vehicles may only operate on a roadway that has a posted speed limit not greater than 30 mph. They are prohibited on any roadway with a speed limit greater than 30 mph or that has a center stripe – regardless of the speed limit. However, vehicles can cross over these types of roads to continue to a road with a posted speed limit of 30 mph.
Goolsby said these vehicles would not be allowed on the city’s hike and bike trails; the ordinance does not regulate their use in parking lots. Fines can be issued up to $500 for any violation of the ordinance.
Wallace, who served more than 29 years with the Waxahachie Police Department before retiring in 2016 as a lieutenant, expressed her concerns.
“When we first started talking about this in the work session, I was under the impression that it was around the golf course and such,” she said. “Now we are taking it to all the roadways with a few exceptions. I have some real issues with that.
“Let’s be realistic,” she said. “When there is a 30-mph speed limit, very few people stay at 30 mph or less. You hit somebody on one of these and they are all going to be dead.”
Council member Travis Smith said the ordinance as needed because these types of vehicles are being used on city streets.
“These things aren’t about to be trying to zoom down (U.S. Highway) 77,” he said. “For one, they can’t. But when you really step back and look at it, this is to benefit neighborhoods and improve the quality of life. That’s all it is. They are used so frequently now; it is not a golf cart that you would see on the 18th hole at the Waxahachie Country Club. You have got to move past that.”
Smith said the ordinance will provide police officers with a means of enforcement and ensure safety.
Asked by Mayor Doug Barnes during the briefing session if the ordinance was the most effective and safest way to go, Goolsby said he had some apprehension.
“I have concerns about them operating on the roadways because they are really not designed to be on the roadways,” Goolsby said. “My other concern is that people tend to put their kids on them. You put kids on a golf cart on the street and something bad is going to happen. We try to put all of the regulations in place and make it as safe as we can, but the bottom line is, if it is hit by a car, they’re going to lose.”