In Florida, golf carts are a common sight at this time of year. Not only are golf courses doing brisk business, renting carts as well as other equipment, but many Florida residents are scooting around on golf carts rather than driving a car or using a scooter. With the price of gas inching upwards, fun and speedy golf carts – which don’t run on gas – seem like a cute alternative in the summer months. According to studies reported by The Associated Press recently, however, golf carts can pose a risk.
New studies have found that golf carts have caused almost 50 000 injuries over a four-year period. The University of Alabama at Birmingham conducted on study of golf carts and concluded that approximately 1,000 Americans are injured on golf carts each month. People over 80 and men between the ages of 10 and 19 are most at risk. A research study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital found that the annual injury rates for golf carts increased 130% over 16 years. Part of the increase in injuries, researchers concluded, is because more people are using golf carts and using them in more ways. That study concluded that about 38% of injuries occurred when riders or drivers fell or jumped out of carts.
The most common personal injuries caused by golf carts include brain injuries and broken limbs. Golf carts have become more powerful and faster over the past decade, and some researchers believe that this has led to their popularity. Unfortunately, the added power means that golf carts do carry risks.
Golf carts can reach speeds of 25 mph, and while they are intended for leisurely zips around the greens, more and more people are using the golf carts in ways that they were not originally designed for. Despite this, researchers find that about half of all injuries involving golf carts do occur on golf courses or in other sports venues. Half of golf cart injuries occur on streets or on private property.
The University of Alabama at Birmingham study and the study conducted by the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital both found that golf carts are often seen as a toy, a safe alternative for teens and children who do not yet drive. This perception allows many people to use golf carts on public roads and streets, which the researchers concluded can be quite dangerous.
The study suggests that parents should not permit golf cart use on streets or on private property. Giving teenagers and children golf carts to ride around is not safe. Most golf cart manufacturers clearly state the intended purpose of golf carts in their manuals and instructions. These instructions should be followed carefully to prevent injuries.