The University of Alabama, Division of Finance and Operations

Utility Cart and Golf Cart Policy

Unit:  Risk Management
Contact: Wade Bond
Title:  Director of Risk Management
Effective Date: 8/1/2013
Revision Date: 10/01/2018



This policy provides guidelines for the operation of electric or gas-powered carts, golf carts and/or similar type vehicles (hereinafter known collectively as “carts”) on University of Alabama (“University”) campus, including traveling to/from campus locations that may be separated by property owned by others or require travel on public roadways to reach the desired campus location. This policy establishes safe operating practices, compliance with traffic laws, and provides our students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors a safe environment.
In additional to compliance with traffic laws and the safety of cart operators, passengers and others, the purpose of this policy is to primarily define when carts may be used, which includes, but may not be limited to:
  • Transportation of persons with physical disabilities
  • Transportation of items that are too large/bulky to be carried by hand when transported by a traditional vehicle
  • Transportation of University guests or VIPs
  • Emergency response
  • Provide access to areas where a traditional vehicle may have difficulty navigating or parking
  • To support essential University operations (i.e. Grounds, Facilities, Athletics, SupeStore, Classroom Technology, etc.) where a cart is the optimal tool as compared to a traditional vehicle
  • To avoid damage to sidewalks, landscaping or other property that may occur with traditional vehicles


All members of the University community are governed by this policy to include students, staff, faculty, and others working on behalf of the University. All operators of carts must meet the following criteria before operating a cart owned, leased, rented or borrowed by the University of Alabama:
  • Meet the minimum driver requirements explained in the Driver Safety and Vehicle Management Program - Refer to the Risk Management website for the current Driver Safety and Vehicle Management Program. Have knowledge and comply with the State of Alabama motor vehicle laws.
  • The operator must provide authorization for Risk Management to obtain a motor vehicle report (MVR) prior to operating a University vehicle. Risk Management will review the MVR of the individual and accept or reject the driver based on criteria outlined in the Driver Safety and Vehicle Management Program. Approval to operate a cart is the same as any licensed University vehicle and if approved to drive a University vehicle, specific approval to drive a cart is not required.
  • Successfully complete a Cart Safety Training Program and confirm training participation, which is available on the Risk Management section of the University’s website.
  • Any failure to adhere to this policy, including following all motor vehicle laws and safe driving practices may result in appropriate disciplinary action or suspension/revocation of the cart drivers’ privileges. This includes common safe practices and courteous operations knowing the carts will be operated where pedestrian, bicycle and vehicle traffic is common.
  • For use on public roads, all carts acquired after the effective date of this policy must meet the National Highway Safety and Traffic Administration (NHSTA) Standard 500 (49CFR Part 571.500), which is applicable to low-speed vehicles. The Standard 500 vehicles may also be known as neighborhood electric vehicles or NEV. The Standard 500 requires the cart be equipped with certain features including, but not limited to:
    • Headlights (2)
    • Front/rear turn signals
    • Rear stoplights/ tail lamps
    • Reflectors/reflective tape - 360 degree visibility
    • Mirrors - rear view driver side and either a passenger side rear view or interior rear view
    • Parking Brake
    • Windshield - DOT AS-1 or AS-4 identification
    • Vehicle Identification Number – 17 Digit
    • Seat Belts – Either Type 1 (lap belt) or Type 2 (lap and shoulder harness)
    • Certification Label – To indicate the Gross Vehicle Weight Rating (GVWR) not to exceed 1,361kg. or 3,000 lbs.
    • In addition to the items listed above, certain safety equipment such as flashing hazard lights, a strobe/beacon light, doors and steering wheel locks may be specified by the University.
  • The minimum safety equipment/design specification on all non-Standard 500 carts must include:
    • No fewer than four wheels touching the ground/roadway at all times.
    • All original equipment must be in good working order.
    • The rear must have a reflective triangle, including trailers attached to a cart.
    • If operated after dusk and before dawn, headlights, taillights and brake lights (2 of each).
    • A yellow or amber flashing light(s) visible from 360 degrees shall operate while the vehicle is in motion.
    • A horn with an activation button/switch within reach of the driver.
    • The vehicle must have an ignition/on-off key to allow removal of the key to prevent unauthorized use.
    • Parking-brake with adequate strength to hold the cart at least a 15 degree angle.
    • An audible (at least 80 decibels at 10 feet) back-up alarm when placed in reverse if there is a cargo box or other attachment blocking the driver’s rearward view.
Carts meeting Standard 500 criteria may operate on University roadways and other public roads connecting the campus no differently than any other traditional licensed and registered vehicle. However, the operation of Standard 500 carts is limited to public roads with a speed limit of 35 miles per hour or less. Except for agricultural, construction and maintenance use, all other non-licensed carts are prohibited from use on public roads.

Cart Registration/Signage/Operator Approval

The University’s automobile liability program extends to all licensed carts. The department will have option to include comprehensive/collision insurance coverage at the department’s expense and the department must advise Risk Management of the need for this coverage.
Each cart operated will be clearly marked with white (or a color that is visible against the background color) block lettering in a standard format with the department name displayed on the front and rear of the vehicle. The size, style and location(s) be used will be determined by the available space on the cart.
Each department will be responsible for maintaining a list of persons authorized to operate the cart and other records as required. The authorization/approval process to drive a cart is the same as any other University vehicle.

Cart Operator Rules

Carts shall be operated with the utmost courtesy, care and consideration for the safety and convenience of pedestrians and other motorists. Pedestrians shall be afforded the right-of-way at all times. Pedestrians as defined in this document refer to: persons walking, jogging, inline skating, skate boarding, bicycling, or those in wheelchairs or mobility assistance devices.
Carts shall be operated in accordance with the University’s Driver Safety & Vehicle Management Program and to also follow specific rules as follows:
  • Carts shall not be parked within 20 feet of the entrance or exit of any building, except at loading docks and in designated parking spaces.
  • All occupants in the vehicle shall keep hands, arms, legs and feet within the confines of the vehicle while it is in motion.
  • Operators shall stop carts at all blind intersections and sound their horns before proceeding.
  • Operators should avoid all walkways less than six feet wide. The recommended speed on walkways and congested area is not more than 5 miles per hour. However, the speed should be no faster than pedestrians walking in the same area.
  • Special care shall be taken while driving carts through parking lots to observe traffic and vehicles pulling in/out of parking spaces. Carts should be operated at speeds of less than 10 miles per hour in parking lots.
  • Operators may not wear headphones, use cell phones or use/operate any other device that may cause a distraction.
  • Never exceed the maximum load capacity recommended by the manufacturer, either by number of occupants or the combined weight of the passengers and load.
  • Operators shall not use carts registered to other departments unless approval has been granted by the department considered to be the owner of the cart.
  • Operators of vehicles that are not equipped with turn indicators shall use appropriate hand signals.
  • All accidents involving carts vehicles shall be reported immediately to University Police, the supervisor of the department to which the vehicle is registered and to Risk Management, regardless of whether property damage or personal injury occurred. Each operator shall be responsible to provide timely notification of safety and maintenance concerns to the supervisor of the department to which the vehicle is registered.
  • In the event a cart is decorated for a special event, the decorations must be securely attached in a manner that will not cause damage or obstruct the driver’s vision in any direction.
  • Carts shall be parked and/or operated in such manner that they do not impede or interfere with normal pedestrian or vehicular traffic flow on roadways, parking lots, ramps, stairs or sidewalks.
  • The cart batteries should never be used to power other devices or removed for any reason other than to perform maintenance or replacement by a person trained and authorized to perform such work. Never attempt to check or add fluid/electrolyte to a battery.

Repairs & Maintenance

Every cart shall be periodically checked to confirm the proper operation of critical equipment including:
  • Lighting – headlights, taillights, brake lights, turn signals, flashing strobe light
  • Brakes/Parking Brake
  • Reflector & Signage
  • Steering
  • Horn
  • Tire Inflation
In the event a cart has critical equipment that is not operational or is not functioning as intended, the cart shall be placed “out-of-service” and the key kept by an authorized individual to prevent the use of the cart until repairs can be completed.
Unless otherwise specified by the manufacturer, the cart should be taken to Fleet Maintenance for a more extensive check and to provide routine preventative maintenance every 6 months. In certain cases, carts used in more extreme operating conditions such as use in temperature extremes, operating in dusty/dirty areas, frequent starting /stopping or hauling loads that are near the manufacturer’s maximum rating may need to be placed on more frequent preventative maintenance routines to monitor wear and assure the cart receives adequate preventative maintenance.

Operator Training

All cart operators must view a Cart Safety Training Program prior to operating a cart. Any person currently authorized to operate a cart as of the effective date of the policy will have 30 days to complete the required training. The Golf Cart Training Program is available on the Risk Management website.

Storage & Battery Charging

The storage of each cart will be the responsibility of the department to which the unit is registered. Whenever possible, the carts should be stored in an area to allow for battery recharging and to shield the cart from foul weather. Some unauthorized persons may find the cart enticing for a joy ride, and thus, a secured storage area and/or the use a chain and padlock or steering wheel lock should be considered.
Carts that are powered by rechargeable batteries shall have dedicated charging stations with a ground-fault electrical outlet designed and rated for such use. The recharging outlets must be designed to be locked when not in use. Just as with the cart, the keys to the charging station should be controlled and only provided to persons authorized to operate a cart.
If available, the carts should be ordered with sealed or gel batteries that do not have caps to allow the fluid to be checked. The fluid in a battery is acidic and will result in an injury if it comes in contact with the skin or eyes. Any batteries that can have the fluid check by removing the caps shall only be done by personnel that are familiar with proper procedure to check the fluid and personal protective equipment such as eye/face protection and acid resistant gloves must be worn.


This policy applies to students, faculty, staff, alumni and visitors.

Office of the Vice President of Finance and Operations

Approved by Cheryl Mowdy, Assistance Vice President for Finance and Operations, 10/01/2018