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The (Mostly) Safe Golf Cart

Parker Sykes, a resident of The Villages, is one of many people that drives a custom golf cart.  The Villages is a large community that was created primarily for active adults over the age of 55. There is reported to be roughly 65,000 golf carts on the premises; several of the residents drive these carts for personal reasons, many drive carts to dinner, appointments, etc. 

According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, 2015 recorded close to 18,000 golf cart-related accidents that resulted in emergency room treatment.  The Villages experienced 94 incidents involving golf carts in 2016, 70 of which resulted in injury.  Many of the residents drive their carts off the property despite the lack in safety regulations.  Russ Rader, a spokesperson for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety explained, “States that are allowing golf carts on public roads are turning back the clock on 50 years of vehicle safety progress.”

If rules are followed and legislation is created, using golf carts can be both safe and convenient.  Harris Blackwood, the director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety explained how the age limit (if enforced at all) used to be much lower to drive a golf cart.  

Twenty-four states regulate golf cart use on public streets, five other states have recently had legislation introduced.  Many accidents occur because of driver negligence. Kristopher J. Seluga, “a partner at Technology Associates, a forensic engineering consulting firm, said the numbers might actually be higher because of underreporting.”  Seluga continued to explain that many golf carts do not have seatbelts and can often lead to people being thrown from the cart.  When a driver makes a sharp left turn, while not wearing a seatbelt, they are often caught off-guard.  Naturally, in large retirement homes like The Villages, this is a considerable concern that needs to be closely monitored.  Seluga is sent alerts each week about golf cart incidents and is troubled by how frequent and severe they can be.


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