It’s common to see golf carts scooting around neighborhoods but are children safe while riding them? Pediatric surgeon Stanton Adkins, MD, explains why parents should be concerned about golf cart safety.
Thank you to Prisma Health for sponsoring this article!
Why Should You Be Concerned?
While most parents buckle up their children and use child safety seats in their cars, they don’t use that same care with recreational vehicles. Golf carts are not toys, however, and drivers should be educated about the risks they pose.
“Golf carts are not protective. We are concerned by the increasing number of golf carts we are seeing on public roads, often with unrestrained children riding in them,” said Dr. Adkins.
According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 1,000 people are injured every month and the majority of those hurt are children and teens.
“Most golf carts don’t have seat belts and people don’t wear helmets when riding in them,” said Dr. Adkins. “These vehicles generally are not licensed for the road. It is frightening to see people driving down busy major roads with very little protection, especially for child passengers.”
Most injuries occur when the cart tips over or riders are thrown from the carts during sharp turns. About half of golf cart injuries are related to falling or jumping from a golf cart.
What You Should Know About Golf Cart Safety
“Most of our streets and roads do not have golf cart paths. We want to remind parents that children can be seriously injured in and around golf carts, so families should use extra caution with these and other recreational vehicles,” said Dr. Adkins.
Dr. Adkins wants everyone to remember these golf cart safety facts:
- Children are at the highest risk for falls.
- A fall is twice as likely to cause a head or neck injury.
- Rear-facing golf cart seats pose a high risk for falls.
- Golf carts traveling even at slow speeds can eject a passenger during a turn.
- Most golf carts don’t have brakes on all four wheels.
- Most golf carts don’t have seat belts or stability mechanisms.
- Golf carts offer little protection in a collision.
- Golf carts often don’t have lights or reflectors.
- Golf carts should not be operated at night.
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Stanton Adkins, MD, is a pediatric general surgeon with Prisma Health. He is board certified in general and pediatric surgery.
Golf Cart Safety Tips from Kidding Around
Golf cart safety is the responsibility of the driver. The driver controls whose in the cart, the maximum speed, and where you go.
Disclaimer: Kidding Around doesn’t have any expert golf cart knowledge. But having been in a golf cart that nearly tipped because a grown-up thought it would be cool to let a kid drive, I’d like to just take a minute to summarize a few dos and don’ts for golf cart drivers to consider.
- Make sure passengers are safely seated before driving the cart, and don’t exceed the number of passengers the cart is designed for.
- Avoid sharp turns, sudden starts, stops and fast turns, and don’t drive straight up and down slopes.
- Avoid excessive speed and always yield to pedestrians.
- This one sounds maybe a little silly, but make sure you know how to operate the golf cart before moving the golf cart. This includes knowing how to use hand signals for turning signals.
- Golf carts were made for the golf course, not for regular family transportation. Don’t operate them in bad weather.
- Just like the rides at the theme park, body parts stay in the cart. Don’t let anyone hang off.
- Use the parking brake when stopped. You pull up to chat with the neighbor for a minute as you’re driving by, it’s time to use that parking brake.
- Avoid distractions! Phones, we’re looking at you.
- Consider wearing seat belts, and installing them if you don’t have them.
- Consider bike helmets for kids.
- Kids really shouldn’t be driving golf carts. They aren’t licensed drivers and they don’t have the experience needed to make quick decisions and corrections if something unexpected should happen.