HOLMES BEACH, Fla. (WFLA) – If you’ve been to Anna Maria Island recently, odds are you’ve probably seen people cruising around on street-legal golf carts, also known as low-speed vehicles.
Holmes Beach Police Chief William Tokajer says the number of low-speed vehicles have tripled on the island in just the last two years. With that increase have come some increased safety concerns.
“We’ve seen an increase in the low-speed vehicles with what appears to be underage people driving. They are not wearing seatbelts and we have golf carts that are supposed to hold four to six people that are holding eight to 12 people,” said Chief Tokajer.
Holmes Beach PD conducted a sweep of the city on Wednesday, focusing on LSVs. In all, police issued 37 citations to people either not wearing a seatbelt or driving without a license. All of them were teens visiting from out of town, according to the chief.
“All of them were unaccompanied by any parents, all of them were underage, all of them were letting people drive that shouldn’t have been driving and none of them were wearing a seatbelt,” Chief Tokajer said. “And they were driving a little recklessly as well.”
8 On Your Side joined Holmes Beach PD for a ride-along Thursday. Most people we saw were following the rules, but not all. Chief Tokajer pulled over two low-speed vehicles within a short time. One of the drivers didn’t know he and his family were breaking Florida law by not wearing seatbelts.
Residents who live in the area feel the companies who rent out the LSVs need to do a better job of educating families from out of state.
“They should be told when they rent these vehicles that this is a requirement and for their safety as well as the law,” said resident Bill Bowers.
“We have gotten with the low-speed vehicle companies and made sure that they are telling people there have to be licensed to drivers. We are doing everything we can on our part to educate and now it is up to the parents to get control of their own children,” said Chief Tokajer.
The youngest driver pulled over during Wednesday’s sweep was 14 years old.
“That is a criminal violation, so they have a court date that they will have to come back for,” said the chief.