Golf carts have made completing 18 holes of golf more fun and far less physically demanding, but they can also be dangerous despite their low speeds when inexperienced drivers are behind the wheel. This has become a pressing regulatory issue in recent years as golf carts are now used to get around gated communities, drop children off at school and run errands, and there are now more sophisticated carts known as low speed vehicles that are even approved by NHTSA for use on city streets.
Golf Carts Can Be Dangerous for Children
Golf carts accidents can be deadly because drivers and passengers are often ejected in a collision. This can result in life-changing traumatic brain injuries. Parents should be especially concerned because studies have found that four in 10 golf cart injuries are suffered by children. Parents often let their children drive golf carts because they are slow and seem safe enough, but this can be a deadly mistake. Before allowing their children to get behind the wheel of a golf cart, parents may wish to consider the following.
Golf carts were not designed for street use
Golf carts are exceptionally good at ferrying people around parks and golf courses where obstacles are few and traffic is not a consideration, but they cope less well on tarmac. Before letting their children drive a golf cart even in a gated community, parents should bear in mind that their suspensions, braking systems and steering features were not designed with emergency maneuvers in mind.
Golf carts have few safety features
Golf carts are not equipped with airbags, anti-lock braking systems or side-impact protection, which is why injuries can be severe when they crash. Children are especially prone to being ejected in golf cart collisions because they weigh less than adults, and boys between the ages of 10 and 19 are the demographic most commonly injured.
Good fun lives next door to recklessness
Despite their safety drawbacks, golf carts can be great fun to drive. However, their low speeds can generate a false sense of security in those who drive them. This should be of particular concern to parents because children may assume thqat driving a golf cart is just as safe as riding a bicycle.
Mitigating the Risks
There are a number of steps that parents can take to help their children enjoy golf carts safely. Parents should teach children that even low-speed collisions can be deadly and vigilance is the best safeguard against injury, and children who drive golf carts should be supervised at all times until they have mastered the controls and demonstrated that they can act responsibly. Many of the most serious injuries suffered in golf cart accidents involve head trauma, which is why parents are encouraged to set an example for their children by wearing a helmet of some sort when driving one of the electric vehicles. Other things that parents can do to reduce golf cart accident risks include adding safety features to their carts, purchasing a LSV instead of a golf cart and helping their children to better understand the dangers by buying them a kid’s golf cart.
Consider a LSV
While low speed vehicles may not be quite as safe as a sedan, pickup truck or SUV in an accident, they do have lights, safety belts and other safety features missing on most golf carts. However, parents should be aware that an electric vehicle that reaches speeds of 25 mph is still considered low speed by NHTSA.
Add safety features
Parents who already own an electric golf cart can improve safety by upgrading braking systems and adding lights and reflectors. There are also golf cart modification kits designed to improve performance that parents should avoid.
Kid’s golf carts could help younger children to better understand the risks
Parents who wish to teach younger children about electric vehicle safety can purchase golf carts specially designed for kids. These kid’s golf carts usually cost between $250 and $500 and are limited to speeds of 5 mph or less.