Riding golf carts and similar recreational vehicles within New Braunfels city limits may be safer in the future following additional fines, rules and regulations being added to the city ordinance.

The New Braunfels City Council voted to approve the final reading of an item during the April 10 regular meeting to make amendments to an ordinance allowing recreational off-highway vehicles, or ROVs, and utility task vehicles, or UTVs, on designated public streets.

All-terrain vehicles and sand rails will be prohibited on public streets except when crossing certain streets as authorized by the Texas Transportation Code.

In the ordinance, operational headlamps, tail lamps, side reflectors, parking brakes and rearview mirrors are already required for ROVs and UTVs to drive within designated public streets. Nighttime driving of the vehicles will remain prohibited. Additional equipment recommended in the proposed ordinance are an operational horn and a Texas license plate.

The ordinance only allows recreational vehicles to travel 2 miles from where it is normally parked, but the amended ordinance allows the off-highway vehicle to travel up to 5 miles. ROVs and UTVs also have to be driven by someone with a valid driver's license and not on sidewalks or hiking trails.

Additionally, higher penalties will be put into place, increasing the minimum fine to $500 for a second offense instead of waiting for a third offense to be fined. If the violation is made of having a passenger under the age of 4 on the recreational vehicle, the minimum fine is $250 instead of $100. According to Greg Malatek, public works director for the city of New Braunfels, at the March 27 meeting, there were around nine violations of the ordinance that resulted in tickets in the past year.

A communication plan will now be carried out by city staff to inform residents of the changes that have been put into place, according to the city. More information on driving golf carts and similar off-highway recreational vehicles in New Braunfels can be found at https://www.nbtexas.org/3229/Golf-Carts-NEVs.