March 28, 2017 — Golf carts are an increasingly popular way to get around. They are inexpensive, easy to park, generally environmentally friendly, and fun too. But just because they are cute doesn’t mean you can’t get hurt in one.
In communities like The Villages in Central Florida the golf cart is THE transportation mode of choice – with 65,000 carts in residents (1 for every 2 residents!) Many have been customized to look like a Rolls Royce or other exotic car. The Villages has 42 miles of paths which golf carts share with pedestrians and bicyclists. Peachtree City near Atlanta is another community where golf carts have long been an important way to get around. Even outside of 55+ or planned communities golf cart popularity is rising. Folks buy them to buzz around the neighborhood; in resort communities they are used to get to the beach.
Nationwide the Consumer Product Safety Administration estimates that about 18,000 people a year have to visit an emergency room due to a golf cart related injury. Carts do not have the safety features that cars now have, and people should not assume they will have much protection if they crash. Underage drivers, recklessness, and driving on public roads are a major source of insuries. There they are competing for space with vehicles many times their weight and speed. As Russ Rader, spokesman for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, said in the New York Times: “States that are allowing golf carts on public roads are turning back the clock on 50 years of vehicle safety progress”.
In Peachtree City officials have taken positive steps to reduce accidents. Enforcement, minimum age requirements for drivers, education, and designing safer paths are some of the common sense practices that keep accidents and injuries at very low levels there. Its Police Department reports that the biggest problems come from teenagers driving too fast or too recklessly; most seniors are safe because they drive safely.
Not everyone thinks that golf carts represent a huge problem. Fred L. Somers Jr., general counsel for the International Light Transportation Vehicle Association, shared the opinion with the Times that compared to bicycle and and motorcycle crashes, golf carts have relatively few problems.
For further reading:
The New York Times: The (Mostly) Safe Golf Cart
10 Great Retirement Towns Where You Don’t Need a Car
Comments? Do you live in a community or neighborhood where golf carts are a big presence? Do you like them, or how do you view them? Please share your views and experiences in the Comments section below.