Whenever we discuss golf cart injuries, we see the same questions over and over. “Why do you blame the golf cart manufacturer, when it’s the driver who caused the accident?” While there’s some truth in that question, it misses the point. Golf carts are fundamentally unsafe.
Up to 40% of golf cart injuries are the result of someone being thrown from the vehicle. This is rarely a case of negligence the part of the passenger. Rather, The US Consumer Product Safety Commission suggests that golf carts have a dangerous design flaw.
While the driver can brace their steering wheel, the passenger must rely on the seat-side handhold. However, that handhold acts like the fulcrum (the pivot point) of a lever. The force from the golf cart then throws passengers from the vehicle, twisting their arms and sending them hurtling toward the road, usually face-first.
Yet this could be prevented if the handhold was in a different place, if there were doors, or if golf carts had the same safety equipment as traditional motor vehicles.
No Seat Belts
There’s nothing holding golf cart passengers in place. The driver can brace themselves against the steering wheel, but passengers are left with flawed handholds, which put them in greater danger than bracing themselves against the dashboard.
Drivers and passengers alike need something to keep them tethered to the vehicle. If seatbelts were standard on all golf carts, we could expect a 40% reduction in golf cart injuries practically overnight.
Center of Gravity
Golf carts were not designed for street traffic, nor should they be regularly used at their max speed. Golf carts have a high center of gravity, small wheels, and low-pressure tires. Those combined factors put golf carts at extraordinary risk of flipping over when turning or even when driving in a straight line at top speed.
Despite this, many owners use golf carts as a means of urban transportation. Speed limits encourage drivers to go at the maximum speed their cart can handle, but a slight turn of the wheel could spell disaster.
Have you ever noticed that new car seats are at an acute angle, with the cushion sinking into the back? This effectively changes a rider’s center of gravity and puts them in an impression. Better seat design allows passengers to resist some jolting from starts and stops.
Golf carts almost always have flat bench cushions, which not only alter a rider’s center of gravity but encourage sliding. This makes the issue of poorly designed handholds even worse as many passengers find themselves gripping the handhold, only to slide down the seat and fly from the vehicle.
Golf cart accidents have steadily increased over the past thirty years. At present, there are 15,000 golf cart accidents per year. That number is expected to increase significantly as more baby boomers reach retirement age.
Many golf cart accidents will affect seniors. Even with exercise and a good diet, the body becomes frail with age. That’s why many seniors involved in golf cart accidents suffer severe injuries, often requiring stitches, skin grafts, or an extended hospital stay.
Preventing these accidents starts by adopting safer driving practices. However, preventing injuries begins when golf cart manufacturers answer the public and add the safety features their products so desperately need.
If you or someone you love suffered severe 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, P.A. to evaluate your case, please call (352) 329-8668 or send us an email.