Q&A - Golf Cars and Electric Wheelchairs on the Highways

Golf CartAs far as I am aware very few, if any, of the electric golf cars or electric sidewalk conveyances that cross or use our streets are neither licensed nor qualified to be licensed. They are therefore not insured for Liability nor Property damage by ICBC. As they are not Motor Vehicles as defined in the Insurance Motor Vehicle act a victim resulting from their negligent operation may not qualify to claim under the Uninsured Motorist  provisions of the Act. [These technical statements are only my opinion and require current varification as I retired from Insurance many years ago and my opinions may be out of date]  For instance one exception for claiming entilement under the Uninsured Motorists provisions may be if the victim held a BC Drivers License. I believe whether or not the operator of the Uninsured vehicle, held a BC Drivers License would be immaterial. He would still not qualify as an Insured.

At Crown Isle most of those who can afford a golf car probably also own a home or Condo and therefore would have Personal Liability Insurance under their Homowners policy which would apply if they ran over and injured someone on the Golf Course. However there is an exclusion under Homeowners policies for use or operation of a vehicle required by law to be licensed. All vehicles on the street are required by law to be licensed, whether they qualify to be licensed or not. So a Homeowners policy would not respond.

All these things came to mind when I moved a few months ago. I regularly see an older gentleman driving his elec conveyance, probably on the way to the Seniors Center or the shopping center. He always drives on the street. I have never seen him use the sidewalk. I recently saw him driving at dusk. He might have struck a child darting out of a driveway.

So besides the Motor Vehicle Act infactions that I assume these operators are in breach of there is the uninsured aspect of what they are doing which troubles me. The majority of them may have no idea that they are driving illegally  and may not have considered the very serious Civil ramifications of having an MVA without Insurance.

It is my assumption that our Traffic Enforcement Officers do not have time to police these irregularities. However I feel that ICBC have all the facilities neccessary to make the public aware of what I perceive to be serious potential problems for innocent drivers and victims.

No doubt you have opinions about all of this and you may decide to take it on and try to get it fixed. If nothing else at all is done then  I think at least Notices of some sort should be posted in the Pro Shops and Senior Citizens Lounges.

Comments

Answer

Let's get the easy one out of the way first. Your electric conveyance, aka motorised wheelchair, is specifically excluded from being a motor vehicle when operated by an invalid. The operator is considered to be a pedestrian and must follow the pedestrian rules.

The golf cart issue is a bit more complicated. In some cases they are allowed to operate on or across roads involved with a golf course. They may also be allowed to be operated on or adjacent to a highway in certain other circumstances.

Crown Isle appears to be a gated community if I understand their web site properly. This would mean that the roads within the gates are private roads.

Application of Act

2  (1) In this section, "private road" means a private road used by the public for vehicular traffic with permission of the owner or licensee of the road.

So, unless the golf cart is uninsured, operated by an unlicenced or prohibited driver or being driven carelessly, there is nothing that may be done about it under the Motor Vehicle Act as long as it is owned and operated by a resident/owner of the gated community:

(9) Except under sections 95, 102 and 144, a person must not be charged with or convicted of an offence under the Motor Vehicle Act as the result of the driving or operation of a motor vehicle or trailer

(a) on a private road owned by the owner or lessee of the motor vehicle, or

(10) Despite this section, but subject to subsection (11), a person must not drive or operate a motor vehicle or trailer referred to in this section unless

  • (a) the person holds a subsisting driver's licence of a class appropriate to the category of motor vehicle driven or operated,
  • (b) the person is insured under a valid and subsisting driver's certificate, and
  • (c) the motor vehicle and the trailer, if any, are insured under a valid and subsisting motor vehicle liability policy evidenced by an owner's certificate.

It would be interesting to see how many of these golf carts are insured.

One final caveat, and that is driving while impaired. A golf cart is considered to be a motor vehicle for the purposes of the Criminal Code and the driver may be dealt with under the Code for impaired driving regardless of where the cart may be operated.

Golf Carts & Seniors

Just noticed this story in today's Vancouver Sun: 'Select BC seniors get to drive golf carts on roads in two small towns'.

It has a great photo of two happy seniors driving along in a golf cart, paying scant attention to where they're going.  Hmmm.

Only in Chase

Qualicum Beach looked at trying this and then decided not to.

As far as I am aware, it was only implemented in Chase.

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