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Some Hobart residents to turn to golf carts for gas savings

Hobart_While you may be enjoying some relief at the gas pump for the moment, people in Hobart hope to enjoy a lot more in the near future - by driving golf carts.  The City Council has passed a law to allow licensed drivers to drive their carts on city streets.  Not only will it cut down on gas consumption, city leaders say it will also help the elderly, and those who cannot drive regular cars, get around easier.  

The law doesn't go into effect until the end of August, so over the next month, many Hobart residents plan to prepare their carts for the streets.  Some are even considering purchasing a new one to get around town.  With a population of around 4,000 people, Hobart city leaders say the community is ideal for golf cart transportation.  "Most of our streets are 25-miles-per hour, and people are cautious - we're fairly compact," said Mayor Tom Talley.  "We're within two miles square."  "The streets are wide," said Stephen Boyd with the Hobart Chamber of Commerce.  "There's plenty of room for golf carts to, kind of, get behind the parked cars."

However, before the carts hit the streets, they'll have to pass a police inspection.  "They have to have seatbelts, and they have to have brake lights and signal lights," said Talley.  They'll also need insurance, and must be off of the road by dusk.  "For Oklahoma, I think this is kind of a new thing."

There is so much buzz over the new golf cart law that two new dealerships are opening up in Hobart.  "Everything from your typical golf cart to if you want one that looks like a '57 Chevy, we can fix you up," said golf cart dealer Mary Ault.  She plans to have 20 carts on her new lot by the time the become street legal.  Another dealer, Jack Hogue, says interest is growing - and, it's not surprising with the high cost of fuel.  "If they don't spend it on gas, they're going to spend it on food at different restaurants, buying different items in the stores."

The city permit is expected to cost around $10.  Adding the brake and signal lights, along with seatbelts, to an existing cart will cost a few hundred dollars.  However, dealers say golf cart drivers will save money in the long run.  One dealer also plans to rent carts by the hour so that visitors to Hobart can cruise around the historic sites and shopping destinations in the Main Street area.

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