How Golf Carts are Perceived
Many people view golf carts as a safe and relatively harmless motor vehicle. Golf carts typically travel no faster than 20-25 miles per hour and a license is not required to operate one. Out on the golf course, it is not uncommon to see parents letting children as young as nine years old steer or operate a golf cart.
How Golf Carts are Risky for Minors
The reality is that golf carts are much safer vehicles than cars with V8 engines. The trouble is that because golf carts are safer, parents tend to feel comfortable letting children operate them. It is difficult for a sober, full grown adult to injure themselves in a golf cart. However, teenagers and younger children are more likely to take risks and make rash decisions, and they do not have the driving experience to quickly respond to changing road conditions. These factors contribute to the injuries that children sustain while driving or riding in a golf cart.
Golf Cart Injury Statistics
The American Journal of Preventive Medicine reported that approximately 150,000 people were injured on a golf cart between 1990 and 2006. Of these 150,000 cases, children under 16 accounted for 50,000. These numbers are striking when you consider that adults operate golf carts at a much higher frequency than children.
Children are at Risk for More Serious Injuries
A recent study from Vanderbilt University looked at minors involved in golf cart accidents between 2008 and 2016. They found that 85% of the minors in a golf cart crash were between the ages of 5 and 14. Injuries occurred most commonly in the head and neck and approximately half of the incidents resulted in over $20,000 in medical expenses. Young children are still developing physically as well as mentally. They develop more serious injuries than adults when experiencing blunt trauma, especially in the head and neck region. Medical professionals have expressed that children involved in golf cart accidents run a serious risk of neurological injury.
A second aspect contributing to golf cart accidents is the risk-tolerant nature of teenagers. Most golf cart accidents are not high impact. When golf carts are operated by minors, accidents do not happen more frequently. However, the accidents that do occur result in injuries more frequently. Below we’ve listed the top ten causes for golf car accidents:
- Limbs hanging outside the cart
- Driving backward downhill
- Driving through uneven or muddy terrain at unsafe speeds
- Driving while intoxicated or under the influence
- Failing to lock the brake before exiting
- Overcrowding, passengers standing
- Racing, horseplay
- General inattentiveness
- Driving and texting, eating, etc.
- Sharp turns
These are the ten most common reasons that golf cart accidents occur. Number four is, hopefully, reserved for the adults. However, teenagers are generally more risk-tolerant than adults and they lack the experience behind the wheel that adults do. This means teens are more prone to partake in the behavior noted in the list.
Medical professionals agree that outreach with parents, golf clubs and local communities can help parents and minors understand the responsibility of operating a golf cart.
Golf Cart Injury Lawyers
While researching for this post, I came across a helpful website for people injured in a golf cart accident. Evans Moore Law has more information on South Carolina Golf Cart accidents and how to recover from these accidents with a lawyer’s help.