It has been reported that golf cart injuries are occurring at an alarming rate. There are approximately 13,000 golf cart-related emergency room visits in the United States per year. Approximately 40% of the injuries occur to children under the age of 16. About 50% of these injuries result from falling from a moving cart. Only about half of the accidents occur on golf courses. The other half are taking place at home or on streets or other public property. With the adventof bedroom communities, many people are now using electric golf carts and other electric Personal Transportation Vehicles (PTVs) as a mode of transportation within their community.
Golf carts are designed for use off of public roads where the speed should never exceed 15 MPH. There are no uniform state or local regulations governing golf carts. There are new federal regulations that cover low speed vehicles, but those rules only apply to vehicles with speed ranges between 20 to 25 miles per hour. Most golf carts are not subject to the rules because they travel at less than 20 mph.
Golf carts are increasingly being used on the road for short trips in affluent subdivisions and senior citizen communities because they are relatively inexpensive, quiet and have low emissions. Recommendations have been made to ban children under the age of six from riding in golf carts. Studies have revealed that passenger ejection is a dominant mode of injury in a golf cart. Golf carts generally do not have seat belts but instead rely on handles on each end of the seat as hip retention devices.
Unfortunately, if an operator of a golf cart accelerates quickly in a left-hand turn, passengers may flip over the seat retention device and land on their head. Researchers have recommended that if children are to ride on a golf cart with no seat belts, at the very least, mounted hand holds should be provided to reduce the likelihood of an ejection. There is a need for the passive hip restraint affecting this to be improved on all golf carts to improve occupant retention. For vehicles that are not used strictly on the golf course, there should be seat belts, doors or netting to improve occupant retention.
There are companies that modify golf carts to make them suitable for hunting and other off-road use. These vehicles especially need doors and seatbelts because the utility is not diminished by these features as it may be with golfers, who need to get on and off the vehicle frequently. There have been numerous injuries and even deaths occurring from these modified golf carts. Some of the recommendations coming out of the research and testing of golf carts include the need to monitor children operating golf carts; seatbelts becoming mandatory; safety netting; and the use of helmets. Without better designs by the manufacturer, we will continue to see these injuries occur at a high rate. If you would like more information on this subject contact Greg Allen at 800-898-2034 or by email at Greg.Allen@beasleyallen.com.
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