The Dark Side of Golf Carts: Hidden Danger for your Family

Unsafe kid in golf cartIf you have gone to play golf in the last 30 years or so, then you are probably familiar with golf carts. Playing golf and driving the cart around the course are part of what makes playing golf so much fun and up until a few years ago, golf carts have mainly been relegated to golf courses and maybe some fancy golf retirement communities around the country. But if you look around now, golf carts are everywhere. No longer are golf carts relegated to the golf course and surrounding communities. Golf carts and golf cart ownership have gone through the roof. Market research firm IBIS World forecasts that by 2016, 76,685 golf carts will be sold annually in the U.S and according to the Insurance Institute of Highway Safety (IIHS,) all but four states have laws that allow golf carts or other low speed vehicles to be driven on public roads. Alaska and Texas even let them be driven on roads with speed limits up to 45 mph, showing that golf carts are becoming a part of our everyday lives and accommodating them will be the next step.

Down here in sunny south Florida, golf carts are almost as common as cars. They have made taking the family to work, school, the park, and any place close by a much easier and more fun way to travel. Not to mention the cost effectiveness of saving on gas these days. When I drop my son at school I easily see 10 children being dropped off by parents in a golf cart and there are even golf cart parking spots in the teacher’s parking lot. There is no doubt golf carts are more fun. However, golf carts are giving people a false sense of security. When these carts were mainly on golf courses and driven by adults you rarely if ever heard of a serious accident involving one, but now with the exploding popularity and varying age range and experience of the drivers, this is changing as well and especially for children.

During 2010, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission reports dozens of people died in golf-cart related accidents. According to The University of Alabama at Birmingham, the national estimate for golf cart-related injuries was more than 15,000 annually during its recent four-year study. The injuries were highest among males, ages 10 to 19, and those 80 and older with fractures and head trauma being the most common injuries found in the study. According to an article in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of injury related to golf cart accidents rose more than 130 percent from 1990 to 2006. During this period, about 147,000 golf cart-related injuries were reported involving people as old as 96 years and as young as two months.

The numbers do not lie. Golf carts have a dark side and need to be taken more seriously both by lawmakers and parents.

From my own experience as a paramedic, what I’m seeing is that this is only getting worse. People are making the carts faster and the drivers are getting younger. We had a case here where a teenager flipped his cart with his 5 year old sister in the cart and we had to trauma alert the 5 year old. She ended up fine but it was still scary.

If you do happen to own one or are thinking about buying one for you and your family, think as you would when buying a car, think safety first. Seat belts are standard in cars and with the main injury from golf carts being ejection from the cart; they should be in your cart as well. Even if your local laws do not require lights, reflectors, a horn and safety belts, they should all be a part of your vehicle, because a golf cart is a vehicle and you will be sharing the road with actual cars. When driving the cart, please remember to drive safely, the website has a great webpage and article on safely operating your golf cart, please take a look at this article before heading out or handing over the keys to anyone driving your cart.

As always, I hope you all have a happy and great summer and above all a Safe Summer.

About the Author

Greg Atwood is a Firefighter /Paramedic in Coral Gables Florida and works for the Coral Gables Fire Rescue. He is an American Heart Association certified instructor in BLS ( Basic Life Support ), ACLS ( Advanced Cardiopulmonary Life Support ), and PALS ( Pediatric Advanced Life Support ). Greg currently lives in Miami Florida with his beautiful wife Alexa and their 2 sons, Connor and Jake. Greg is a former member of the PedSafe Expert team


6 Responses to “The Dark Side of Golf Carts: Hidden Danger for your Family”

  1. Golf carts seem so unassuming and harmless. However, after reading this post, I can see how dangerous they can be. I can really appreciate the importance of being safe.

    • Stefanie Zucker Stefanie Zucker says:

      Thanks Jennifer – it never occurred to me either until I read this post. It’s funny how we take every day things life golf carts for granted but in the hands of kids, how dangerous they can be. One of the many reasons I am grateful our EMS Safety Expert brings things like that to our attention. Thanks for stopping by and letting us know you found this helpful! Please come back again, anytime…and have a wonderful holiday!

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