The Villages Voice - August 2010

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Golf Carting with Ernie

by Ernie Keckonen

Golf Carting with Ernie - Kids and Karts

Since it is summer in The Villages there are many visitors of all ages around town these days.  Most of you have young visitors and will do just about anything for them.  I am talking about grandchildren.  Of all the wonderful things to do in The Villages what is the number one thing your grandchildren look forward to doing while here?  Is driving grandma and grandpa’s golf car on their list?  We love our golf carts and so do they.  But what a temptation it is to do the wrong thing when it comes to golf car safety and laws when your little precious asks: “Grandpa can I drive?”

I think we are all pretty clear on the age requirement to legally drive a golf car in The Villages.  For those who do not know for sure IT’S FOURTEEN YEARS OLD.  A fourteen year old can go anywhere and do anything in a golf car that everyone else can.  They have the right, but only the adults in their life know if they can handle the responsibility for themselves and for others.  Have they been taught traffic laws and adhere to them.  Have they been taught to anticipate and recognize potential problems?  Are they skilled in the operation of a moving vehicle?  Can they tell when they have a mechanical problem like a flat tire or faulty brakes? 

Just getting to fourteen doesn’t mean you are ready to assume responsibility for yourself and all others on the road.  We don’t give our 16 year olds the keys to the car without a license and you do not get a license without demonstrating competence.  Although a license is not required to operate a golf cart all the rest – competence, knowledge, responsibility – are.

A lot of the grandkids learn about golf cars with each visit.  As soon as they are able they sit on granddad’s lap and help turn the steering wheel.  As they get a little older and a little bigger they might be allowed to drive around the block with constant supervision.  Suddenly they think they got this driving thing down and the petitioning starts to get their own set of keys – do not bend to this pressure!  The CONSEQUENCES of underage driving can be long lasting.  Getting stopped by the police is never fun but to find yourself not being able to get a drivers license until 18  can turn a fun experience into a  problem with long term consequences – don’t let it happen to you and yours.

Email me with your questions or ideas for future articles -ernie.keckonen@thevillages.com