By Emily Wagster Pettus/The Associated Press
JACKSON — Hank Holcomb likes to drive his golf cart to church or the country club in his Mississippi Gulf Coast community of Diamondhead.
He said he uses the cart on private roads but doesn’t venture out onto public roads because that’s not legal in Mississippi.
“Some people do it, anyway,” Holcomb said. “But me, I’m not a law breaker.”
Holcomb and some other coast residents were at the state Capitol on Wednesday asking for a change in state law.
They want legislators to consider letting cities or counties authorize the use of low-speed vehicles, such as the carts, on roads where the speed limit is 35 mph or slower.
The House Transportation Committee vice chairman, Democrat Donnie Bell of Fulton, said he wants to talk to law enforcement officials and insurance agents about the proposal.
Holcomb said 46 states, including Florida, allow some use of golf carts or other low-speed vehicles on certain public roads, usually where the speed limit is no more than 35 mph.
Rep. Preston Sullivan, D-Okolona, said he uses low-speed vehicles on his 150 acres in north Mississippi but he’s not sure it’s a good idea to allow them on public roads.
“I worry about the safety issues involved,” he said during a Transportation Committee hearing.
Randy Watkins, a Jackson-area golf instructor and businessman, said he sold golf carts for about eight years. He said allowing the use of carts on low-speed public roads can enhance people’s quality of life, particularly in subdivisions that are near golf courses.
However, Watkins told lawmakers it would be a good idea to require annual inspections of carts being used on public roads to ensure that people aren’t installing more powerful motors or putting on larger tires.
“Some people, once they get their hands on one, they’ll juice ’em up,” Watkins said.
Rep. Jessica Upshaw, R-Diamondhead, is sponsoring the bill. Because it’s early in the session, the bill was not immediately assigned a number.