November 2018 November 2018 - Page 24

GOLF CART ACCIDENTS According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), golf carts cause over 10,000 visits to emergency rooms every year and injure approxi- mately 15,000 individuals. Sometimes, these injuries are fatal. A report in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, or AJPM, stated that technological innovations (such as the ability to drive at faster speeds) play a key role in the increase of injuries and deaths. The report also noted that people increasingly use golf carts off the golf course for day-to-day transporta- tion. For example, golf carts are com- monly used on military bases, vacation and retirement communities and at resorts. As a result, it may come as no surprise that the number of golf cart-re- lated accidents and collisions grew by a whopping 132% between 1990 and 2006. Some Background Information on Golf Carts Depending on the make and model, some golf carts travel as fast as 25 miles per hour (although conventional golf carts tend to go no more than 15mph). Although there are some regulatory standards for golf carts in place, these are limited. Drivers are usually not required to have permits or licenses to drive golf carts, and some states allow teens as young as 14-years-old to oper- ate them. Common Golf Cart Hazards Golf carts also lack a variety of pro- tective equipment, including (but not limited to): 24 WWW.GOLFCAROPTIONS.COM Seatbelts, and: Stability mechanisms to prevent individuals from falling out in the case of an accident or rollover. If golf carts were required to have stability mechanisms, there is no question that people’s lives would be saved. When it comes to accidents involving these vehicles, approximately 40% involve a person falling out of the golf cart (especially off the back of the cart), and at least 10% involve vehicle rollovers. These types of accidents are even more likely to result in cata- strophic injuries or fatalities to consumers. Yet another issue that complicates the safety of golf carts is whether owners properly inspect, maintain and service them. Studies have also shown that some golf cart owners make their own modifications to their vehicles – it is crucial to remember that making mechanical modifications makes golf carts even less reliable and more dangerous and that it is never advisable to do so. More Common Risk Factors Here are a few examples of other risk factors commonly asso- ciated with accidents that involve golf carts: Using drugs or alcohol before operating a golf cart (data shows that alcohol is a factor in as many as 59% of recorded golf cart accidents); Failure to observe posted traffic laws (such as when crossing the street, stopping at a stop sign, etc.), and: Riding on the sidewalk(s) Because golf carts do not have to abide by federal safety reg- ulations, it is essential that individuals who operate them, or ride as passengers, take safety precautions to limit the chanc- es of deadly or injury causing accidents and collisions. Making sure that the golf cart is in proper working condition, using all available safety mechanisms, avoiding drugs and alcohol, and obeying posted speed limits and other rules are all critical steps to take before getting behind the wheel or riding as a passenger.