Owning a go-kart does not mean you are free to drive it on the streets. Driving racing go-karts in public spaces such as parks, public roads, or sidewalks is prohibited. To maximize the utility of your go-kart, you need to have a better idea of where you can legally drive it!
If you’re looking for places to drive a go-kart legally, then you should examine the laws prevalent in your state and adhere to them.
Go-karts can be divided into multiple categories: off-road go-kart, racing go-kart, kids’ go-kart, low-speed go-kart, etc. Each type has its usage laws.
Rules and regulations may differ depending on the type of go-kart you wish to ride and the state you reside in. However, some spaces have been committed for go-kart driving and racing. Let’s have a look at some of them in detail.
Go-Kart Race Tracks
Well, the first obvious choice is to visit and utilize a commercial race-track. These tracks can be situated both indoors and outdoors. We recommend the former for beginners as it is much safer and the private access to these indoor arenas makes you feel more comfortable.
Race-tracks have certain advantages that other arenas don’t possess. Firstly, the natural feel of driving your vehicle in a full-fledged arena is unmatched. It just pumps up the adrenaline like nothing else. Secondly, even if you don’t have access to all the safety equipment necessary to avoid an accident, you can get it from the management of the track.
We can’t stress enough, the importance of supervision of professional trainers for a beginner-level driver. A go-kart might look like an ordinary vehicle but your model comes with its specifics that can be best handled and controlled under guided supervision.
If you’re a fan of facilities catering to all-electric models, we strongly recommend going to an indoor track. These facilities are also a social hub and thus lead to you meeting new friends and spending quality time apart from the main racing activities.
Outdoor tracks, on the other hand, are certainly more lively and cater to all kinds of models. The fresh air combined with much wider tracks gives you the feel of a Formula One race track!
The second most common option is that of private property. No state jurisdiction would refute to you driving your go-kart on a private trail a sling as you have the permission of the owner! The major advantage of this option is the freedom you get while practicing your basics. You can decide to drift, pace, or drive along as you spend some quality time on your own!
You can always invite a group of friends over and have a nice group session without a time limit or being bound by external regulations. Most importantly, if you’re utilizing already available space, it saves the cost incurred while going to an official race track.
The biggest challenge though is that of adequate space. Not everyone has access to a trail large enough to cater a nice ride on a go-kart. The entire routine can get monotonous over time. Thus, even if you have a nice space at hand, make sure to mix things up a little and take your go-kart to other avenues as well.
We can talk about the feel of a race track but nothing compares to the wild adventure of dirt trails. It’s just you and your group out in the rough open terrain, driving your go-karts through immensely challenging conditions!
The experience of off-roading is incomparable! People who like desert safaris or mountain bikes are bound to value this. It certainly provides you an edge in drifting, riding, and control skills. Although you might not witness the competitive race energy found on a commercial track, it will certainly be a journey to remember!
A major setback for this option is your go-kart model. A regular vehicle cannot withstand long drives or the rough terrain of deserts and mountains. You’d have to get access to go-karts with heavier engines and rough tires. The brake systems, windshield, and headlights must be on-point before starting the journey,
We suggest off-roading with experienced drivers only; it can be a rough journey and you need proper supervision in case of a mishap! Moreover, gas-powered models are more suited to these rides.
There’s no specific definition for which public spaces are open to go-karts, it depends upon the state and municipality you live in. Some localities are working on laying trails and tracks in public parks to allow interested individuals to bring their vehicles and experience a fun-filled evening.
Some coastal areas have legalized the use of electrical go-karts on the beach. Although dirt bikes are still more common on those rough terrains, you can always try drifting your go-kart near the sea. However, just like the off-roading option, your vehicle needs to have strong wheels and a good brake to work well on a beach.
State parks and beaches are way more reasonable than private racing tracks. You can hang out alone or with friends without having to worry about a membership or user fee. You might find some parks in Michigan and California. They’re still quite rare in other major states.
Variations in State Laws and Regulations for Go-Karts
As we mentioned earlier, the exact legislation will differ from one state to another. Thus, before buying a go-kart for yourself, visit reliable sources and get a good grasp of the exact laws that apply to you.
For instance, California only allows for electric models to be registered as street-legal options. This is done by keeping the green initiative in mind. Texas on the other hand emphasizes car features like functional brakes and proper tail lights before providing legal access.
Similarly, local law might require you to go through a tedious process of vehicle registration with the state’s office and tax commission. Your go-kart can be assigned a pass, sticker, or sign to indicate its type (LSV or Off-road). Mind you, the registration process can be key to making your go-kart usable on a commercial track!
The driver’s license, age, and ability to drive are all left on the state’s judgment and clarified accordingly. Hence, always keep an eye for the details and make sure you don’t end up getting tied up in some legal hassle.
Why Can I Not Drive My Go-Kart in Neighborhoods?
Go-karts should not be driven in public areas or on neighborhood roads, as recreational vehicles should stay within private premises or approved public places. There are several reasons why these karts are not allowed to operate on streets, parks, and public sidewalks. A few of the reasons are stated below.
Riding go-karts on sidewalks or public roads can risk the safety of the general public. Pedestrians may get injured as public places are usually crowded, and you never know how and when someone can get hurt.
Sidewalks are not made for motorized vehicles. They have a narrow and uneven surface that may not let a kart operate properly. Only hover karts or pedal karts can be used on these sidewalks.
Non-racing models come in two major types, electric and gas-powered. The former is usually a slow-paced vehicle and thus can disrupt the traffic system of freeways and highways. Gas-powered go-karts, on the other hand, make a lot of noise and cause disruptions in the neighborhood.
Thus, most states impose strict legislation for public safety and convenience!
Go-karts are not road legal as they do not have the necessary equipment installed to function on a crowded highway. These karts lack horns, side mirrors, license plates, blinkers, and lights that make the road unsafe for you and other passengers.
You can always opt to get your kart upgraded and registered so that they can be used on the road legally.
Making Your Go-Kart Street Legal
Well, if you’re not satisfied with the already available avenues and want to take your go-kart out in the neighborhood, we’ve got you sorted! Firstly, you need to find out how the state identifies your exact model. It can be treated as an LSV or an off-road car.
In case it’s an off-road vehicle, you need not worry as minimal procedures like registration and following the speed limit will do the job for you. A low-speed vehicle, on the other hand, requires different additions. This, once again, will vary from one state to another.
The most common requirements include a strong installed brake pad. This makes the vehicle safe for you, the other drivers, and the pedestrians alike. You should also check the lights up front and on the back. Some states also require the proper use of side indicators, a windshield, vipers, and a speedometer.
Even after following the entire procedure, you’ll be expected to drive on roads with a low-speed limit. The exact metrics might vary but the average will range around 25-30 mph. The treatment can also change according to neighborhoods. Recently, areas in California have allowed go-kart owners to drive their vehicles on unpaved lines.
If you’re looking for an in-depth guide on how to make your go-kart street legal, then head over to this article where we explain that in depth.
Though major concerns with regards to places where you can drive your go-kart legally have been addressed in the previous paras, this short FAQ section will help further clarify a few things.
Do go-kart drivers require a license?
Generally, you won’t require a professional driver’s license to use a go-kart. Especially, if you’re driving on private property or a racecourse, you’re good to go without a license. You can even have access to areas that legally allow users as young as 14-15 to drive their go-kart models! However, once on the street, most jurisdictions will demand a proper driver’s license.
What is the fastest go-kart?
The world’s fastest go-kart is known as the Daymak C5 Blast go-kart that is made in Canada. The speed of this kart can reach up to 0 to 60 in 1.5 seconds. No other go-kart has been produced that could match up to this speed.
Are go-karts safe?
Go-karting is a risky activity. The risk stems from the fact that they can crash, flip, or spin out while racing. If the speed is too high, then there is a risk of injury. The best way to avoid an accident on a go-kart is by adding safety features to it, such as approved seat belts, roll cages, bars, etc.
How much do go-kart frames cost?
Go-kart frames can cost about $200. These frames are primarily made for go-karts and are designed with brackets and hoops. If you want to opt for second-hand frames, you can contact different sellers who can get you used frames for $70 to $80.
Do go-carts have VINs?
In some cases, yes, go-karts do have VINs. It also depends on the type and model of the kart. A VIN can be observed on the frame of either the passenger side, or the driver side. It is a 17-digit number placed horizontally on the frame of the go-kart. The VIN is a requirement in some states.
Is go-kart an LSV?
Yes, go-karts are typically registered as low-speed vehicles or off-road vehicles. However, the categorization depends on the state and its laws. The rules and regulations may vary across different regions. To determine whether your go-kart falls under LSV, you should contact your local DMV and inquire about your go-kart classification.
How can I register for my go-kart?
To register your go-kart, you need to contact your state’s local Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and register your go-kart there. You need to ensure that all the specifications and requirements stated are fulfilled to get it approved legally. Once your go-kart is registered, you can operate it in approved places allocated by the state publicly or privately.