WESTVILLE, Ill. (WCIA) — Some people get around by walking, driving a car or riding a bike. But in Westville, dozens drive golf carts or utility vehicles. After Wednesday night’s village board meeting, changes were made to the golf cart ordinance, including what’s needed for safety.
The Westville Police Department approached the village a year ago and asked them to revamp the ordinance so there would “be teeth for it” and for safety concerns.
Twelve changes were on the table, ranging from turn signal requirements to where drivers were allowed to cross Route 1. But two changes in particular weren’t sitting well with some: seat belt requirements and additional lights. The village board passed the ordinance 4-1, and it will take effect on April 17, but without those two suggested changes.
The original proposal required seat belts for every passenger in the vehicle for safety reasons.
“The backseat is where I think it was really kind of needed because that’s where we’ve seen too many people riding holding babies,” said Mike Weese, Westville Mayor.
But the concern one trustee had was cost.
“I’m hearing over, close to $200 for seat belts installed, plus the flashing lights,” said Gary Delhaye, Trustee.
The mayor said that ties the hands of police.
“If they get stopped, or an accident happens, the police have no recourse. If they don’t have their seat belts, they don’t have to have them,” said Weese. “There’s no violation.”
The other safety measure shot down was a light that’s supposed to be visible from every side of the vehicle. Police were concerned golf carts and utility vehicles crossing Route 1 weren’t visible enough to drivers on the highway. But some said their vehicles already have that.
“Me, myself and several other people, my cart’s got over 3,000 LED lights on it,” said Toll Walblay of Westville. “You can see it from the side, the back, the front. Most of us that have crossed [Route 1] at night, I’ve never seen a golf cart at night that wasn’t very well lit up from where I can see it.”
Walblay said he added them not just for his safety, but also for his family.
“I put lights on my cart, because me and my daughter drive around at night, there’s a lot of time that’s more for me to be able to see, and when I have a kid on my cart, I want everybody to be able to see me.”
But he also said that did come at an extra cost.
“Some people can’t afford to put all the extra lights on their cart,” said Walblay.
Even though the mayor said he was surprised the board suggested removing additional safety measures for the ordinance, he agreed the suggestion for additional lights may have been a bit much.
“I don’t know if that was really necessary as long as they have some kind of reflective tape on the side,” said Weese. “Some of them do have all that, so it’s not affecting everybody, it’s just a few that don’t want to do it.”
The Westville Police Department said there haven’t been any crashes on Route 1 involving golf carts or utility vehicles, but they have had close calls.
Other changes to the ordinance included removing the curfews for when people could be out driving their golf cart and utility vehicle, and adding additional locations drivers can cross Route 1.