By Chief Don Hutson
Summer is here and it is time for all of us to be mindful of a changing landscape on the streets of Riverton. Many more pedestrians, bicyclists, motorcycles, and other types of traffic will be more prevalent and require all of us to be more aware. Among the non-traditional vehicles we see more routinely during the summer months are golf carts and all-terrain vehicles.
We receive a good number of complaints from our citizens concerned about golf carts and other non-traditional vehicles on our roadways. Some citizens are irritated by them, some are very concerned for the safety of the riders, and some don’t see their use as problematic.
I would like to clarify a few points regarding the utilization of these non-traditional vehicles on the streets of Riverton. First, Riverton City does not currently have an ordinance authorizing or regulating the use of non-traditional vehicles on city streets. Given this, state law is the authority regulating their use. It is illegal for an unlicensed driver to operate any vehicle, including a golf cart or other off-road vehicle, on the roadway. It is important to know the roadway is the portion of the street where vehicles travel, not the shoulder.
If operated on any specified highway, a non-traditional vehicle shall be equipped with head lamps, tail lamps, turn signal lamps, and other equipment specified in state law.
It would be impossible for me to address every scenario related to non-traditional vehicles, but I will specifically address the most common situations I have seen. If a golf cart or ATV is driven by an unlicensed driver, it is not legal for them to drive on the roadway. However, it may be legal for them to drive on the side of the road, like an electric scooter or bicycle. If a non-traditional vehicle is driven by a licensed driver, it is still not legal for them to drive on the roadway unless it has all the necessary safety equipment outlined above.
Our interest, as police officers in Riverton, is the safety of our citizens. That said, when it comes to enforcement of traffic laws in Riverton, our focus will be to address any situation which we deem to be unsafe. The best way to get our attention, and perhaps be the focus of our enforcement efforts, would be to engage in unsafe behavior as it relates to the use of non-traditional modes of transportation.
I can assure you we will get a call if a ten-year-old, and six or seven of his/her friends, are cruising down the middle of the street on a golf cart. Conversely, if your fifteen-year-old rides down the side of the roadway to a friend’s house, that will probably not draw our attention.
In closing, please help us keep our streets safe by monitoring your children’s use of golf carts and other similar forms of transportation to keep them safe.