Golf’s Hidden Hazard: The Rising Risks of Golf Cart Injuries

Golf carts are ubiquitous on golf courses, making getting around the green a breeze. However, golf cart injuries are on the rise, with the annual injury rate increasing more than 130 percent since 1990. A major contributing factor may be that these vehicles don’t have seatbelts, and they can be unstable. Half of the reported injuries were from falls or jumps from carts, or the carts rolling over. Additionally, most golf carts only have rear-end brakes, causing them to fishtail during sudden stops.

The Danger of Rear-Facing Back Seats

While golf carts can be a fun and convenient mode of transportation on the course, one of the most unsafe parts of the vehicle is a rear-facing back seat. Passengers may not have a proper safety bar or any real protection from a sudden stop or turn. This can cause them to topple out of the cart, which may lead to severe injuries.

Faster, More Powerful Golf Carts

Golf carts have become faster and more powerful over the years. With increased horsepower comes increased speed; golf carts can reach speeds upwards of 20 miles per hour. While this might not seem like a lot, when combined with their lack of seat belts and potential instability, higher speeds make accidents significantly more likely.

Expanding Use of Golf Carts

The use of golf carts has expanded beyond just golf courses. They are now frequently used in retirement communities, airports, parks, college campuses, and other large, sprawling areas. As their presence grows, so does the risk of injury.

Golf Cart Safety Tips

While golf carts have the potential to be dangerous, there are ways to keep yourself and your passengers safe. Here are some safety tips for golf cart usage:

  1. Don’t overload the cart. Golf carts are not designed to carry a large number of passengers. Overloading the cart can make it more unstable and increase the risk of accidents.

  2. Drive at a moderate speed. Quick acceleration and high speeds can increase the chance of tipping or losing control of the cart.

  3. Take turns slowly. To minimize the risk of rollovers, take turns at slow and safe speeds.

  4. Avoid abrupt stops. Sudden stops can cause passengers to be thrown from the cart.

  5. Keep limbs inside the cart. Put safety first by keeping your arms and legs inside the cart while it’s in motion.

  6. Always use designated paths. Golf carts should be driven on designated paths and roadways to minimize the risk of accidents.

  7. Never drive under the influence. Just like any other motorized vehicle, you should not operate a golf cart while under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

  8. Observe posted rules and signs. Always obey local golf cart rules and regulations.

Children and Golf Carts

Children are at a higher risk for golf cart-related accidents and injuries. To keep them safe, follow these additional guidelines:

  1. Always supervise children. Never allow children to drive or ride in a golf cart without adult supervision.

  2. Seat children properly. Make sure that children are securely seated and not on laps or in rear-facing seats.

  3. Set a good example. Show children how to operate the golf cart safely by following the safety tips above.

Golf Cart Maintenance

Golf cart maintenance is essential for the long-term care and safety of your cart. Proper upkeep can help prevent accidents due to mechanical failures. Some maintenance tasks you should regularly perform include:

  1. Check the brakes. Golf cart brakes should be inspected regularly and replaced if worn or faulty.

  2. Inspect the tires. Make sure your tires are properly inflated and in good condition. Replace them if they show signs of wear or damage.

  3. Examine the steering. Test your golf cart’s steering system for any signs of looseness or unresponsiveness.

  4. Check the batteries. Inspect the batteries for any signs of wear, corrosion, or damage, and replace them as needed.

  5. Keep it clean. Clean your golf cart regularly of debris and dirt that could cause mechanical issues.

By following these tips and adhering to safety guidelines, you can protect yourself, your passengers, and others from golf cart-related injuries. While accidents can happen, a combination of safe driving, proper maintenance, and awareness can significantly reduce the risk of injury. Enjoy the convenience and fun of golf carts, but always make safety a top priority.