Golf carts are commonplace in many Florida neighborhoods. Unfortunately, their low speeds and easy operation may lull you into thinking golf carts are safer than they actually are. Golf carts may be especially dangerous for children both as drivers and passengers.
According to America Now, statistics from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission show that dozens of people died in golf cart accidents in 2010. The University of Alabama, meanwhile, reports more than 15,000 people each year are injured while riding in or operating golf carts. Rates of injury were highest among boys 10 to 19 years old, as well as elderly individuals 80 and over.
The Herald-Tribune in Sarasota reports a surge in golf cart accidents and injuries between 1990 and 2006. Most of those accidents occurred at sports or recreational facilities (like golf courses) but many occurred in neighborhoods or retirement communities. Children were involved in as many as one-third of the injury incidents.
Below are a few safety tips to reduce risk of or lessen injury severity in a golf cart accident:
- Know the biggest risks – Many child injuries occur because the child fell or jumped out of the moving cart. Ensure your child understands the rules of riding in a golf cart, such as staying seated until the vehicle has come to a complete stop and keeping hands, arms, feet and legs inside the vehicle while it is in motion.
- Avoid rear-facing golf seats – Kids are especially vulnerable when riding in a rear-facing golf cart seat. Drivers cannot monitor the child’s position as easily, and even a slow-speed turn can send a passenger sailing off the vehicle.
- Avoid uneven terrain – Golf carts are not high-performance vehicles. They are not designed to skillfully navigate hills and rough terrain. The vehicles typically lack brakes on all four wheels – locking up just the rear brakes can cause a cart to fishtail. This problem is especially prevalent while traveling on hills.
- Obey the law – State law dictates children younger than 14 years are prohibited from operating a golf cart on a public road or street. (Some recommend only allowing children ages 16 and older to drive a golf cart.) Florida laws prohibit the low speed vehicles on most public roadways (except to cross the street at designated thoroughfares), with a few exceptions.
- Basic safety equipment – Allow your children to ride only on golf carts outfitted with basic safety equipment like seatbelts or safety restraints, brake lights, turning signals and mirrors.
- Make an age cutoff – Even with seatbelts and a safe adult driver at the wheel, golf carts are simply unsafe for very young children. Safety experts advise parents to prohibit children six years and younger from riding in golf carts altogether.
Has your child suffered a serious injury in a golf cart accident? Contact Chalik & Chalik to discuss the accident and options for financial recovery to pay for damages: 888-476-4697.