As golf carts are becoming increasingly popular, accidents and injuries incurred on them are also on the rise. It’s easy to view golf carts as fun novelties and disregard safety, but the truth is that they pose similar risks as any car or motorcycle. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there are over 10,000 emergency room visits each year resulting from golf cart accidents; with about 40 percent of these accidents involving someone falling out of the vehicle, and roughly 10 percent involving a rollover. Even more unsettling is the fact that small children and teenagers account for almost one-third of all golf cart-related injuries, as reported by the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.
Many of the accidents that take place on golf carts happen because the driver or passenger(s) do not follow common sense. While there is great potential for danger with improper use, the risks can be limited by educating yourself and keeping the following safety tips in mind.
Wear your seatbelt.
This could literally mean the difference between life and death by preventing passenger ejection in the event of an accident. Although seat belts are optional due to lack of regulations, every cart should be equipped with one for every available seat.
Watch your speed.
Golf carts should be operated at a moderate speed, equivalent to a well-paced walk in congested areas. Approach turns slowly and with caution; turning at just 11 mph is fast enough to easily throw passengers out of a cart. Reduce speed to compensate for inclines, pedestrians, and weather conditions. Be especially cautious when driving downhill as golf carts can gather speed very quickly. Always drive straight up and down a hill, driving at an angle can cause the cart to tip over.
Protect your passengers.
Never carry more passengers than you have available seats for and don’t operate the vehicle until all passengers are safely seated. All riders should keep extremities inside the cart while it is in motion. Too often people like to drive with their foot hanging out which is unwise since it can get caught and twist an ankle or even pull them from the cart.
Obey traffic laws.
Traffic laws apply to golf carts in much the same way as they do to automobiles. Drinking and driving is not permitted and can lead to a DUI. The golf cart driver can also be cited for other traffic violations, such as running a stop sign or failure to yield, etc. These citations can result in fines and points against your license. It is best to always follow traffic laws, as well as outfit your cart with headlights, brake lights, turn signals, and horns for optimum safety.
Regularly service your cart.
Maintaining your golf cart is important to the safety and operation of the vehicle. Monthly or annual servicing will alert you to any issues and ensure that brakes, alignment, and tire pressure are getting adjusted regularly for proper function.