Golf Cart Safety Tips for Kids
Even though there are risks, golf carts are becoming a popular way for children to get around their neighborhoods or to travel along roads. As a result, golf cart injuries among the pediatric population have been on the rise.
A study conducted by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia revealed that in 2019, more than 6,500 children were injured due to golf carts. These injuries included cuts, muscle strains, broken bones, and traumatic brain injuries such as concussions. Injuries typically occurred when children fall out or jump off, get hit by, or are in the golf cart when they tip over.
Why are golf carts so dangerous for children?
Golf carts were designed to help adults travel around a golf course with their equipment and not with children in mind. Also, kids:
- Are smaller than adults, therefore, the seatbelts are not designed to restrain a child.
- Often cannot reach the floor of a golf cart and can lose their balance more easily when the vehicle is moving.
- Don’t have the arm strength needed to hold on and keep themselves inside the cart.
- Don’t have the training to drive golf carts and may not even be tall enough to reach the pedals safely.
When comparing golf carts and cars, golf carts are more unsafe
Golf carts lack many of the common safety features in cars like 3-point seat belts and airbags that keep kids and teens safe when they are driving or are just a passenger. They also have a maximum speed limit of 12-19.9 mph but are allowed on roads with cars going up to 30-35 mph, making them unsafe.
Golf carts can be extremely dangerous for children, whether they are passengers or drivers. This is due to the limited oversight and their design not being suitable for safe transportation of children. In fact, the American Academy of Pediatrics advises against children riding in golf carts at all.
However, if your child must use a golf cart, there are some guidelines you can follow to ensure their safety.
- Florida law now requires that children have a learner’s permit or driver’s license to operate a golf cart on public roads.
- Golf carts do not have the same safety features as cars, but they do have some like lap seatbelts and handgrip bars. If your child does drive a golf cart, ensure that they know how to use the safety features that the cart does have.
- Children should sit with their backs pressed up against the seat and ensure the hip restraint is snug in their lap.
- Riders should place both feet on the floor and hold on to the handgrips nearest to them to prevent a fall or ejection from the cart, especially during turns or when riding on slopes or uneven ground.
- Golf cart owners need to make sure that their vehicles are well-maintained and that all parts are working properly.
- They should only allow people that are of age to operate the vehicle and children over the age of 6 to ride in them.
- Passengers and drivers must be informed about safety features like hip restraints and hand grips.
- Owners should not modify their vehicles after purchase to raise them higher off the ground or go faster than the manufacturer intended because these changes can increase the risk of injury.
When used properly, golf carts can be a safe and easy way to get around; however improper use can be dangerous and cause injury, especially to children. With the above suggestions in mind, golf carts can be a little safer for everyone.
For more information about golf cart safety, visit healthychildren.org or contact the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a program supported by The Children’s Trust at 305-243-9080.
Written by Shriya Patel M.D./ M.B.A. candidate with Lyse Deus, M.Ed, Julie Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H.,. and Oneith Cadiz, M.D.
Horvath, Kyle Z et al. “Fun ride or risky transport: Golf cart-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2007 through 2017.” Journal of safety research vol. 75 (2020): 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2020.10.002
Korioth, Trisha. “Golf cart injuries more common in kids than adults.” Parent Plus Column for AAP News. August 1, 2021
Marchioli M, et al. Nationwide Injury Trends Due to Motorized Golf Carts Among the Pediatric Population: An Observational Study of the NEISS Database from 2010-2019. Presented at: AAP National Conference & Exhibition; Oct. 8-11, 2021; (virtual meeting).
Watson, Daniel S et al. “Golf cart-related injuries in the U.S.” American journal of preventive medicine vol. 35,1 (2008): 55-9. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.03.029