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With many people eager to take advantage of the last of this year’s summer-like weather, it seems like a good time to remind people to drive carefully when they’re behind the wheel of a golf cart.
Some people, especially those who aren’t golfers, think of golf carts as harmless little vehicles. The truth is that many golf cart accidents are just as devastating as those involving passenger cars. In many ways, golf carts are less safe, and drivers and passengers need to be aware of the risks when they climb aboard.
Several tragic incidents involving drivers or passengers in golf carts have caught our attention recently. In July 2016, a worker at a Virginia golf course was found dead next to his crashed golf cart. That same weekend, a woman was arrested on DUI and vehicular assault charges in Tennessee after her husband was killed when he was thrown from the golf cart she was driving. A few days later, a South Carolina man was killed when his golf cart was struck by an SUV. Four people in the SUV were injured.
Fortunately, there are only a handful of fatalities each year, something a Michigan teen can be grateful for after recovering from a coma caused by a cart crash. But one large Florida community (estimated to have around 50,000 golf carts) has seen golf cart deaths in all forms, including at least eighteen in the past eight years.
If you haven’t seen a golf cart recently, you might not realize how substantial they can be. There are models that seat eight passengers, weigh up to 1,500 pounds, and are rated to carry that same amount, giving a fully-loaded golf cart the same weight as a small passenger car. Some can reach speeds of nineteen miles per hour, more than fast enough to cause serious injury in an impact or when an occupant is thrown from the cart—the most common reason for an injury, accounting for nearly 40 percent of the 15,000 or more serious golf cart crash injuries believed to occur each year. Tip-overs and rollovers are also common, and surprisingly, children are the victims in at least one-third of golf cart crashes.
How safe or unsafe are golf carts? The specifics vary from one manufacturer to another, but in general, they’re not designed with occupant safety as the top priority. Europe’s passenger car safety program recently tested some in the same kind of simulated crashes passenger cars experience with results that should scare all drivers: They found the vehicles to have essentially no side protection, and front impacts were extremely dangerous because of the way the steering column was driven into the crash dummy’s chest and head (a problem that was addressed in passenger cars years ago with collapsible steering columns).
If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident involving a golf cart or another vehicle, you are urged to contact the Indianapolis Automobile Accident Attorneys of Wilson Kehoe Winingham. The lawyers at WKW can help you get the compensation you deserve. Call 317.920.6400 or fill out an online contact form for a free, no-obligation case evaluation.