On Nov. 12, 2019, O’Fallon approved the use of golf carts on city streets and roadways with several specific requirements to promote safety for the public and golf cart occupants.
Among those requirements was the stipulation that golf cart drivers needed to be at least 16 years old and have a valid state-issued driver’s license. However, at its April 8 meeting, the City Council conducted a second reading and vote on a bill (No. 7295) that would remove the driver’s license requirement.
The bill was sponsored by Ward 3 council members Dale Kling and Nathan Bibb.
During citizen comments, seven speakers supported the bill, as did many others in the audience via applause and cheers. All advocated golf carts as a viable and necessary means for disabled residents to get around town and live independent lives.
Those speakers said many disabled citizens cannot get a driver’s license, even though they know the rules of the road and follow them. They need to use a golf cart to be independent.
With comments and rebuttals, some council members spoke for the bill and others spoke against it. Opposition primarily was related to a knowledge of the rules of the road and adequate eyesight, which are ensured by passing a driver’s license exam; and to the great difference in the weight of and lack of safety devices in golf carts compared to cars and pickup trucks on city streets.
Just prior to the vote, Kling said, referring to the needs of citizens with disabilities, “It’s time for O’Fallon to show compassionate accommodation.”
The bill passed by a vote of 7-3 with Deanna Smith (Ward 1), Jeff Kuehn (Ward 4) and Katie Gatewood (Ward 5) voting against the bill.