Golf cart injuries have steadily increased over the past 30 years. Thousands are hurt in golf cart accidents every year due to a variety of factors, including increased use, a lack of safety equipment, and unsafe driving. Explaining why golf cart accidents are on the rise requires an understanding of the causes and possible solutions.
How Bad is it?
Golf cart accidents have increased by 300% since 1990. When consumer protection agencies first recorded the spike, there were around 5,000 serious golf cart accidents per year. Now, 30 years later, over 15,000 accidents require a trip to the emergency room each year.
These accidents are often more severe than a regular car crash as golf carts lack the safety measures of a traditional automobile.
What are the Causes?
While there are more golf cart accidents than ever, there are also more golf carts. Likewise, people are living longer, and as a result, elder communities using personal golf carts grow in size and scale every year.
Thirty years ago, most golf cart accidents happened on the course. Now, about 30% occur in towns or on city streets. That’s because golf carts are a staple of resorts, small cities, and planned communities, sometimes replacing traditional cars and trucks.
Similarly, children make up about 30% of golf cart accident victims. Many parents falsely view golf carts as a safer, less intimidating alternative to cars. However, driving a golf cart is just as dangerous as driving a car and requires the same training and awareness.
It’s easy to dismiss the rising injury rate as a consequence of having more golf carts. However, that attitude neglects the concerns of the injured, who often suffer more serious injuries as a result of a golf cart accident.
What are the Dangers?
Golf cart accidents usually result in a concussion and a fracture. Road rash and brain damage are also common. Every year, a few golf cart injuries result in the death of the driver or passenger.
Golf carts often lack safety features, such as seatbelts, airbags, and doors. There’s nothing keeping riders in place, especially young children who can’t reach the floor or a handhold. According to the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), nearly 40% of serious golf cart injuries occur when passengers are thrown from the vehicle, usually during a sharp turn.
While many golf carts have handholds on the side of the seat, the CPSC report suggests using those handholds could be more dangerous than bracing the dashboard.
According to the CPSC, a passenger forcibly ejected from a golf cart tends to rotate their body. When someone grasps the seat-side handhold, the bar becomes a fulcrum (the pivot point of a lever). This causes the already rotating passenger to roll outward. As they rotate, their bodies bend at the waist, causing them to hit the road, head first, at 15 MPH.
What Can We Do?
Awareness and safety equipment would be a great help, but they’ll only go so far. Reducing accidents lies with golf cart drivers who have a duty to drive safely as well as protect passengers and pedestrians. Owners can exercise further caution by ensuring only responsible adults get behind the wheel of their golf cart.
Golf cart accidents are wholly preventable. When drivers understand the limitations of their vehicles and the increased risks associated with operating a golf cart, they directly contribute to the reduction of golf cart accidents in the future.
If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a golf cart accident, you might have a case. If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced The Villages Personal Injury Attorney from Ayres, Cluster, Collins & Banks, please send us an email or call (352) 329-8668.