The increase in the prevalence of golf carts makes golf cart safety more important than ever. Originally designed for use on the golf course, the vehicles are now used at sporting events, on college campuses, at malls, as a form of transportation in senior communities and other residential developments, and sometimes even on roadways of the surrounding areas. This development draws attention to safety issues that must be addressed.
Golf Carts vs. NEVs
To clarify, a golf cart is a gas or electric-powered vehicle that has a top speed of less than 20 miles per hour. Some small electric-powered vehicles that can achieve speeds of 25 mph or more are properly called NEVs or Neighborhood Electronic Vehicles, even though they are still often called “golf carts.” This distinction is important as a confusing mix of federal, state, and local laws pertain to them.
Basic golf carts built for low-speed usage are not built for the road. They often lack safety features, such as seatbelts, and may lack windshields, brake lights, rear wheel brakes, turn signals, and other devices designed to protect the drivers, passengers, pedestrians, and other drivers. No driver’s license is required, and even drivers who cannot get a state license due to DUIs or medical conditions can drive a golf cart in a residential community.
Golf Cart Injuries
Common accidents include falling off the cart, especially from rear-facing ones, and being ejected at speeds as low as 11 mph when the driver makes a turn or loses control on hilly terrain. Over 1/3 of the injuries occurred among children, often because they jumped or fell off the cart. Because golf cart accidents and resulting injuries do occur, it highlights the need to follow basic rules for golf cart safety.
Observe the Rules for Golf Cart Safety
NEV vehicles are built to be safer and have licensing requirements. They are considered road-worthy in many communities, although they must follow safety rules, stay on roads where the speed limits are low, and stay in the right lane.
When you buy a new golf cart, whether it is for the course or it is a NEV for the street, keep golf cart safety in mind. Make sure you know how to drive your vehicle and familiarize yourself with the rules that apply to the type of cart you buy.
If you are shopping for a golf cart, trust your business to a local shop that carries a wide variety of golf carts and NEVs, and one that is concerned with your safety, too. Before you leave with your new vehicle, the staff should make sure you know how to use it correctly and familiarize you with golf cart safety rules.