SANIBEL ISLAND, Fla. — Some people on Sanibel Island are calling low-speed vehicles (LSV) a safety concern. One councilman is trying to limit how many are on the road.
They can be mistaken for a golf cart, but the LSVs need to have a license plate on them. They also are registered, have seatbelts, headlights and turn signals. Sanibel Carts co-owner Laura DeBruce says her business was the first of its kind on the island.
"We built this business over the past four years," DeBruce said. "I don’t like the idea of someone sitting on City Council, making the decision as to how and whether my business is able to grow."
Sanibel City Councilman Mike Miller wants to reduce how many LSVs are on the road through regulation.
"At the present moment, it’s not an issue but it’s going to be an issue again this winter now that we have different vendors of low-speed vehicles," Miller said at Monday's City Council meeting.
The program he's suggesting will require companies to register their LSVs with the City of Sanibel. They would then give owners a medallion for the vehicle to display.
However, DeBruce says limiting the LSVs would hurt her business.
"So suddenly my returning customers come and I have to tell them I have a cart, but I’m not allowed to rent it to you," she said.
The vehicles can only go 25 mph maximum and Miller says that speed causes some drivers to try and unsafely pass the LSVs.
"If Sanibel has a problem, it’s a problem with a little bit of excessive speed on San-Cap Road," DeBruce said. "It’s the fact that there are incredible speeders on San-Cap Road who become very impatient when they’re behind a slower moving vehicle."
We asked Sanibel Police Chief William Dalton how often they interact with LSVs.
"We don’t encounter them that much because our most frequent cause for a traffic stop is speeding and these vehicles don’t even break the speed limit," Dalton said. "We would encounter them when they’re doing something other than speeding like maybe not having seatbelts on or a child not in a restraint device."
That's why DeBruce believes the program is not a good idea.
"It feels like it should be a win-win for the island to have these low-speed vehicles on the island," she explained. "I hope what comes of it is they come up with ways to make San-Cap Road a safer place. Not just for our low-speed vehicles, but for any slow drivers, for the cyclists."
During the City Council meeting on Monday morning, they decided to have staff members look at program options and see what other cities do to regulate the LSVs.
It's not clear who enforcement would come down to if a regulation goes into effect, but we asked Dalton if it would be hard for the department to enforce it.
"It could have some challenges, yeah," he said. "Identifying the medallion so to speak."
It's not clear when this discussion will be brought back to the table.