Golf Cart Accidents On The Rise
Florida once again made national news this week when a 58-year old woman was arrested for driving a golf cart, while intoxicated on I-95. While driving on a highway in a golf cart is not often seen, as it is incredibly reckless and unusually audacious, it isn’t unusual to see residents of South Florida driving golf carts in downtown areas like Delray Beach, Fla. Golf carts must have certain safety features, such as headlights and direction signals, and be registered with the DMV in order to be “street legal”. Therefore, they should be treated like any other vehicle while operating – which means it is illegal to be drinking while doing so.
Much like boating, people often forget that they are legally required to remain sober while driving a golf cart. In fact, the statistics around golf cart accidents are rather startling:
- Each year, there are approximately 13,000 golf cart-related accidents that require emergency room visits, and that number is rising, according to data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.
- About 40 percent of those accidents involve children younger than 16. Half result from kids falling out of a moving cart. That is a highly disproportionate number of young people getting hurt when you consider that most golf carts are still used by adults on golf courses.
- According to an article in the July 2008 issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the rate of injury related to golf cart accidents rose more than 130 percent from 1990 to 2006. During this period, about 147,000 golf cart-related injuries were reported involving people as old as 96 years and as young as two months.
However, not all golf cart accidents can be blamed on alcohol. In fact there are many other issues that add to golf cart accidents:
- One problem is that golf carts aren’t just being driven on golf courses as intended these days. In many gated and retirement communities, golf carts have become a primary means of transportation. They also are used for transportation purposes in downtown areas, at airports, hospitals, military bases, parks, sporting events and college campuses.
- Another concern is that golf carts have become much faster and more powerful these days. Some can reach over 25 mph and can travel more than 40 miles on a single battery charge.
- Most golf carts are not subject to federal regulation. State and local regulations for golf carts vary from region to region. In Florida, anyone over age 14 may drive a golf cart without a driver’s license. No seat belts or other safety features are required, although driving is restricted to streets approved for golf carts by local municipalities.
It is important to remember that if you find yourself in a golf cart accident, you should follow the same steps you would as with any other accident, such as car accidents and boating accidents. Make sure you exchange information, call 911 and get medical treatment, and write down as many details as you can. Talk to witnesses and get their statements and information if possible. Finally, remember to get an experienced personal injury attorney who can assist with legal action, if necessary.