Interpreter for the deaf boosts attendance at VHA golf cart safety clinic

A capacity crowd turned out for the January VHA golf cart safety clinic on Wednesday. Although this monthly clinic is usually well attended, Mark Gallo, director of the VHA Golf Cart Program attributed the capacity crowd to the sign language interpreters present at the meeting. More than 20 deaf Villages residents were in attendance.

Mark Gall of the VHA.
Mark Gall of the VHA.

Opening the meeting, Gallo thanked the crowd for coming out on such a frosty morning.

Filled with information and narrated by John Rohan, Villages Recreation Director, this video is also noteworthy for the beautiful aerial photography of The Villages. It will soon be available for viewing on the VHA website, www.TheVHA.net.

After the video, Gallo followed up on the major points that the audience had just seen.

“It is not a toy,” said Gallo, “If you wouldn’t do it in your car don’t do it in your golf cart.”

Multi-modal path are shared with bicyclists, walkers and skaters. No golf carts can be on roads with speed limits of 35 or higher posted. Street legal golf carts have to be licensed, tagged and insured, “all to go five miles an hour faster.”

Gallo pointed out that if a golf cart and an automobile collide, the golf cart is going to lose.

“Better to let the other guy be wrong and stay alive,” he said. For people hesitant about using the bridges, he recommends looking only straight ahead; keep your eyes on your path and do not look around.

He also cleared up the myth that passing is not allowed when driving on roads with the painted white lines. Using regular safety procedures, signals and hand signals, passing is perfectly legal. It is the law to allow three feet between golf carts and bicyclists when passing.

Improper left turns are a big issue and the cause of the two fatalities last year.

“People stay too long on the golf cart path instead of merging,” said Gallo, “and then they have to cross over two lanes.”

Carmello Falo of Deaf Talk out of Orlando signs one of Deputy Dick Bennet of Sumter County’s responses during the Q&A portion of the meeting.
Carmello Falo of Deaf Talk out of Orlando signs one of Deputy Dick Bennet of Sumter County’s responses during the Q&A portion of the meeting.

Deputy Dick Bennett of the Sumter County Sheriff’s Office and Jimmy Thomas of the Lady Lake Police Department plus John Tyler of Cart World in Lady Lake and Rose Connell, with The Villages Insurance Co. joined Gallo for the question-and-answer portion of the meeting.

Bennett echoed the use of common sense in many answers and noted there was nothing in it for the golf cart driver to be “dead right.”

Several topics were covered.

Following are some of the answers.

As in an auto, lights must be on when windshield wipers are in use.

Currently it is legal to use a cell phone while driving, just texting is illegal.

Rose Connell of The Villages Insurance.
Rose Connell of The Villages Insurance.

Technically if two golf carts are in an accident and one driver agrees to pay for damages a report is not required. Connell noted however, that waiting to fill out a report at that time can save a lot of time later if there are any issues with the driver paying for damages as verbally agreed.

While being advised to make good use of the tunnel mirrors, a question arose regarding some tunnel mirrors being covered. A call to community Service should be made to get bushes trimmed.

Officer Jimmy Thomas and Deputy Dick Bennett.
Officer Jimmy Thomas and Deputy Dick Bennett.

Regarding speeding tickets, Deputy Bennett said speeding tickets are not issued because golf carts are set at either 20 or 25 mile per hour.  If a golf cart is travelling faster than that then the cart has been altered which results in a $250 ticket. Also, the insurance and warranty companies for the cart are notified and coverage is cancelled.

A resident of Mallory since May, Sue Schreifels was looking forward to learning more about the rules and insurance.
A resident of Mallory since May, Sue Schreifels was looking forward to learning more about the rules and insurance.

Connell, managing advisor for the Sumter Branch of the Villages Insurance Co., incidentally the largest golf cart insurance company in the nation, said that although insurance is not required for a regular golf cart more and more people are realizing they need a policy from a liability standpoint. “Things were quite different when our company started 30 years ago.”

John Tyler of Cart World, in business in Lady Lake since 1983, said the three top things he would advise cart owners is to charge electric golf carts after each use, regularly check tire pressure and have golf carts serviced twice a year.

The Golf Cart Safety Clinic is held at 9 a.m. the third Wednesday. Typically, the meetings are at Colony Cottage Recreation Center, but next month the meeting will be held at the Savannah Center to better accommodate the Villagers who live in the north side of the Villages. At the Savannah Center, a room with the Loop system for those with cochlear implants, will be used.

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