President's Update 4-28-2021

With this update, I will have corresponded with this community more than I had with my parents when I was at summer camp. A TLA President will have the opportunity to address our community 12 or so times. I have already exceeded that figure and have months to go.

There is no list of topics that I am supposed to address. No one tells me what to write, nor do I ask anyone. I try to address a subject that is timely to the community, and I try not to be repetitive. This month, however, I am going to be repetitive because I am going to once again talk about our community paths.

“Community” with reference to the paths means everyone can use them. They are not restricted to any type of person or vehicle or means of transportation. Because everyone can use the paths, we have to share. There are signs on the paths that remind us of who has to yield to whom. With respect to carts, it is easy; carts yield to everybody.

I have intentionally not limited my reference to golf carts. Today, we have a mix on our paths of traditional golf carts; carts that are bigger, faster, and stronger than your parents’ golf cart; and what I refer to as urban family vehicles, which are more like cars than carts. Carts today go faster than the carts for which the paths were designed.

There are two types of drivers that I want to address -- the unyielding driver and the unlicensed driver. Both types put the other users at unnecessary risk.

Many of us have had close encounters with the unyielding driver. The unyielding driver has a laser-like focus on his or her destination, be it the golf course, Publix, or home. The mission is to get there as fast as possible; other path users need to slow down or move over, because this driver won’t. Even if the unyielding driver causes an accident, he or she is oblivious because the focus is on the destination and not who was forced off the road. Perhaps the saddest and most troubling aspect of the unyielding driver is that he or she does not realize that they are that type of driver. Security will ticket them if observed; they are a threat to everyone’s safety.

One thing I have noticed in my three years on TLA’s Board is that the Hurricane Season and unlicensed driver season seem to start at the same time. We can’t stop Hurricane Season, but we can stop unlicensed driver season. I was disturbed to learn that in 2020, 65 unlicensed drivers were ticketed. Obviously, there were many more who were not caught.

Georgia enacted Joshua’s Law in 2007. Joshua Brown was a talented young man who died on a two-lane road when he hit a pool of water and hydroplaned. His parents blamed his accident on lack of driver education and experience and successfully lobbied the Georgia legislature to enact a law with specific requirements for teens to get a license at age 16. All 16-year-olds must complete a 30 hour approved driver’s education course and have a minimum of 40 hours supervised drivers experience, with at least six hours of driving at night. Applicants must pass a road skills test with a minimum score of 75%. Getting a driver’s license takes work; young drivers must earn it.

Our unlicensed drivers have neither the classroom experience nor the practical driving experience. Georgia recognizes the need for the training for the safety of the driver and the community. Carts are not toys; accidents have been caused by unlicensed drivers. No one in this community wants to read about a horrible accident involving an unlicensed driver and a group of friends.

My prior efforts to persuade parents not to let their unlicensed children drive the family cart have not been successful, so I will try a different approach. As I watch the local nightly news, I can count at least six ads by personal injury attorneys who regale us with the large verdicts/settlements they have obtained. There is even an ad for a clinic which will not only treat your injuries but will also get you a lawyer. So to those who do not stop unlicensed drivers from using the family carts, I ask: Do you want to have an attorney talk about how much they received from being injured by an unlicensed driver in a golf cart?

Talking about these problems hasn’t solved them. It takes personal responsibility. If personal responsibility isn’t exercised, external motivation is needed. We are in the process of reviewing the penalty structure to establish penalties that will induce compliance. Once the penalties are established, they will be enforced.