We know that we take on at least some level of risk whenever we hit the road because of the vehicles nearby. Trucks and cars are remarkably powerful machines but don’t overlook the fact that people can be involved in golf cart accidents as well.
While the golf cart may seem like a pretty innocuous piece of machinery, the reality is that it can indeed pose a danger to those who are riding it. That is especially true if they take their safety for granted and mess around while riding the golf cart.
This article will shine a light on the dangers posed by the golf cart to those who are not careful. You can also learn more about the different ways to keep safe while using this vehicle.
The History of the Golf Cart
It took people a while before they warmed up to the golf cart. It took people a while before they warmed up to the golf cart. They made the first real golf cart in 1932, and it was an electric vehicle that did not fare well on the manicured fairways.
Though it did not immediately resonate with golf enthusiasts, the golf cart still became a useful invention as it helped those with disabilities move around with greater ease. The innovators did not abandon their dream of having more efficient means of transportation on the golf course, however.
They eventually made tweaks to the original electric golf cart’s design that made it more appealing to lovers of the sport. About two decades after they unveiled the first electric model, revamped offerings would hit the market and appeal to more customers.
They introduced a gas-powered unit before the 1950s ended. Even the renowned Harley-Davidson Motor Company got into the business of manufacturing golf carts, although they would hand off those duties eventually.
These days, companies like Club Car, Polaris, and Yamaha are the big names in golf cart manufacturing.
All kinds of golf carts are also available now. You can find gas-powered models or go for the electric variants if you want something more eco-friendly.
The standard golf carts remain widely used, but you can also see more souped-up models that are capable of navigating rougher terrain.
What Are the Laws That Govern the Operation of a Golf Cart?
The golf cart can be a source of confusion for some, mainly because they aren’t clear on the laws that govern the usage of the vehicle. A lot of folks are not even completely sure if they need a driver’s license to use a golf cart.
Unfortunately, no blanket laws cover golf cart usage. You will have to refer to state laws to find out what rules they impose on the operation of golf carts.
In the state of California for instance, there is no need for you to register your golf cart with the Department of Motor Vehicles or for you to even have a valid driver’s license to operate one, provided you will only use it on private property.
Now, if you are planning to use your golf cart on public roads, you will need to register it with the DMV and bring your license with you as you drive it.
Do note that there are limitations on where you can use your golf cart. California does permit golf carts on public roads, but the speed limit on those roads cannot be any higher than 35 miles per hour.
So, why are these additional rules imposed on the operation of golf carts? That probably has something to do with how easy it is to get injured while riding them.
What Are the Common Causes of Golf Cart Accidents?
You’ll find that some of the causes of car accidents double as explanations for golf cart accidents. That’s not necessarily a surprise.
However, golf cart riders are also susceptible to certain accidents that can only happen because of the vehicle they were riding.
Let’s learn more about these golf cart accidents and how they take place.
The Driver Is Not Paying Attention
It’s easy to feel more relaxed when you are driving a golf cart. Because of that, some drivers forget basic rules that they need to follow whenever they are operating other four-wheelers.
Golf cart drivers may not always pay attention to the road because they want to survey the course around them. Others may use their time behind the wheel as an opportunity for multi-tasking, which could be the reason they are also using their smartphone.
Distracted driving is never acceptable, even if you are using a low-speed vehicle. If you need to use your phone or would like to marvel at the scenery a bit more, stop the golf cart for a while. There’s no need to put yourself and others at risk by not paying attention as you drive your golf cart.
The Driver’s Skills Are Impaired
Owing once again to our tendency to underestimate the risks of riding in a golf cart, you may find people who are in an altered state of the mind when they get into the driver’s seat. Regardless of which type of vehicle you are driving; it is never advisable to do so when you are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
Take the golf cart lightly, and you could end up paying dearly for doing so. You could injure yourself and others because of that irresponsible decision.
The Driver Loses Control of the Golf Cart as It Moves Downhill
You would think that golf carts can handle the type of terrain presented by most golf courses, but there is a certain geographical quirk that these vehicles often struggle with. That quirk in question is the steep downhill slope.
Apparently, the way they design many golf carts contributes to this problem.
You can find more than a few golf carts that only have brakes on their rear axle wheels. That design choice can lead to a vehicle that does not excel at coming to a full stop quickly.
On top of that, some drivers may not get a good feel for the braking mechanism, causing them to jam on the brakes with greater force. Once that happens, the brakes lock up, and you are putting yourself into an even more precarious position.
Golf carts with malfunctioning brakes will have a hard time navigating a downhill slope. That explains why rollovers happen quite often with these vehicles.
Many Golf Carts Lack Basic Safety Features
Golf carts are perfect on the fairways and greens because they are convenient and easily accessible. After hitting your first shot, you can hop into the golf cart quickly, drive to your golf ball, and proceed with the hole.
With no doors or seatbelts getting in their way, players can make their way through courses faster.
As you might have already guessed, though, that type of design does have its drawbacks. Since golf carts have no doors or other restraints to keep you and other passengers in place, falling out of them is always a possibility.
How Many People Are Involved in Golf Cart Accidents?
Now that we know about some of the leading reasons why people get into golf cart accidents, let’s take the time to understand how often they happen.
Considering that golf carts aren’t exactly widely used, and you hardly ever see them on the roads, it would be natural for you to assume that accidents involving them are pretty rare. Golf cart mishaps are indeed rarer compared to the ones featuring other vehicles, but they still happen.
Studies suggest that around 15,000 people per year are involved in golf cart accidents. Again, that number probably looks like nothing compared to the statistics documenting regular car crashes, but still, that’s a lot for a vehicle that not a lot of people use.
The number of annual golf cart-related accidents speaks to how dangerous these vehicles can be if they are in the hands of irresponsible drivers. What’s even more alarming is that children and senior citizens are involved in many of these accidents.
It’s awful to learn that the people in the most vulnerable age groups are the ones who are often affected by golf cart crashes, but the bad news sadly does not end there. The injuries people sustain from these accidents can also be quite severe.
What Are the Injuries You May Sustain from a Golf Cart Accident?
Injuries from golf cart crashes range from being minor to life-threatening.
After sorting through data from 1990 to 2006, researchers found that the most common type of golf cart injury was soft tissue damage. There are different kinds of soft tissue damage.
Bruises or contusions are soft tissue injuries you can deal with easily. Tendonitis also counts as soft tissue damage, but similar to contusions, you can still go through your daily routine even if you have that kind of injury.
Other types of soft tissue damage are not quite as forgiving.
Severe sprains and strains can render people immobile because they directly affect ligaments and muscles. It may also take you a while to recover from those injuries, especially if the ligament or muscle was completely torn.
Injuries that stem from golf cart crashes can still get worse from there, though.
Due to the golf cart’s tendency to roll over, a passenger can end up landing on his/her head after falling from the vehicle. An incident like that could lead to paralysis.
Passengers can also die if they fall out of a golf cart going faster than it should.
Don’t assume that golf carts are less dangerous than other vehicles. Similar to any other moving vehicle, a golf cart can pose a real threat to someone’s life if it is not driven with the proper amount of caution and care.
What Are Good Safety Tips for Using a Golf Cart?
By this point, you now know about how dangerous a golf cart can be, but that doesn’t mean you need to completely avoid them. You should treat them like you would any other vehicle, and that means taking the proper precautions and following safe driving tips.
Get to Know Your Golf Cart
It never hurts to study up on your new golf cart before you start using it. Pick up the owner’s manual and read up on what you can expect from your new vehicle.
You should also take the time to look for any warnings or precautions included in the manual. It may require a specific type of maintenance routine not needed for other golf carts, for instance. It’s good to know everything you can about your vehicle so you can confidently drive it and also prolong its lifetime.
Do Not Overload Your Golf Cart
One of the things you will read about in your manual is the weight or passenger limit for the vehicle. Always abide by what that limit says.
If you ignore it and weigh down the golf cart too much, it will not work as intended. Stopping the golf cart could become a tougher task. With no brakes to protect you and the other passengers, an accident could easily lead to numerous injuries.
Urge Everyone to Keep Their Arms and Legs Inside the Golf Cart
We’ve already talked about how easy it is for passengers to fall out of a golf cart. The chances of that happening only increase if the passengers are sticking their arms and legs out of the vehicle.
The driver is the only person who should be sticking their arm out of the cart, and that should only happen whenever they need to turn.
Be Careful Whenever You Turn or Change Direction
Aside from using hand signals, you should also slow down the cart prior to turning. Try to pull off a sharp turn while driving a golf cart, and someone inside might fall out.
Lastly, you should stop first before changing directions in a golf cart. The change of momentum could lead to someone falling out if you change directions too quickly, especially in carts not equipped with seat belts.
You must always exercise caution when it comes to driving any vehicle, and that includes golf carts. If you were injured because the driver of the cart you were riding in was reckless, know that you can take legal action. Call Batta Fulkerson now to get your case started.