As golf carts and low-speed vehicles become a lot more popular, it is pretty common to see them out and about at any time in a local community. While it’s nice to see so many people relying on this efficient way to get around, safety issues are becoming more and more of a concern.
Golf cart drivers should always be driving defensively. Other drivers on the road might not be that familiar with looking out for golf carts on the road, and a cart can be damaged very quickly in even a minor crash.
There are between 100,000 to 200,000 accidents per year involving people in golf carts according to statistics pulled from The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System database, and that number is only going to go up as more people invest in this alternative driving solution.
How can people stay safe in golf carts, on and off public roads? Here is a complete guide to golf cart safety including a few essential tips to always keep in mind.
LSV and Golf Cart Safety Guide
1. Keep all arms and legs inside the vehicle.
It can be tempting with open-air setups to stick extremities out. If the vehicle is driving to close to something else, it can lead to disaster.
2. Use seat belts.
Have seat belts installed if the golf cart does not supply them. Wearing seat belts is needed as soon as the cart is on the road. Don’t overlook one of the most important safety measures we have today.
3. Abide by all standard traffic rules.
Too many people think that carts don’t need to abide by the same set of rules. For those who did not have to register the vehicle with the DMV, this is something to keep in mind. Stop at all stop signs and lights. Use hand or turn signals. Don’t weave in and out of traffic.
4. Carts are not alternatives to driving under the influence.
A person who drives under the influence of drugs or alcohol can still face legal action. Just because it is a slower vehicle doesn’t mean a person can’t face charges.
5. Be familiar with hand signals.
Not all golf carts are going to have working turn signals, but hand signals should be used to indicate intentions.
6. Drive defensively.
On a golf cart, nearly every single vehicle on the road will be going faster. Always be looking out for cars passing, and drive defensively overall. This practice may help prevent a significant crash.
7. Avoid driving in extreme weather.
Most golf carts don’t handle extreme weather conditions all that well. Try to avoid driving in heavy rain or snow. It’s easy to lose control of the vehicle, and most drivers aren’t familiar enough with golf carts to handle things in bad weather.
8. Protect valuables.
Golf carts are extremely easy to jump in and out of, which means anything valuable stored in them are a more likely chance for thieves. Protect all valuables by either locking them up in a compartment or taking them.
9. Perform safety checks at least twice a year.
If treated well, these carts can last a long time. It is still essential to get them checked out so that everything is in working order. It’s easy to forget that they need maintenance from time to time, just like standard cars and trucks.
10. Have lights installed.
Generally, it is not a wise choice to drive a golf cart at night. Many are not aware but, many jurisdictions prohibit night driving. Still, it is essential to have headlights and taillights installed. They can come in handy during dusk hours, as well as inclement weathers. It never hurts to be more recognizable.
11. Don’t let inexperienced drivers go on the road.
Some areas don’t require a valid driver’s license for cart drivers. That shouldn’t mean it is time to give a new 12-year old the keys. Only those familiar with driving and handling the cart should be driving around other cars. Practice in a lot of the same ways drivers practice for their exam.
12. Avoid carrying too much weight.
These carts have relatively low carrying capacities. Adding too much weight to the vehicle can a lot of issues. The cart can start to drag or stop working altogether. If the golf cart only has seating for four people, don’t attempt to stack eight people on board.
13. Check your surroundings.
Most carts and low-speed vehicles don’t come with the same mirrors and many are custom made for carts. That means a thorough checklist should be performed when moving from place to place. Check behind the vehicle before backing up. Be aware of blind spots. Never assume that other drivers will get out of the way.
14. Yield to pedestrians.
Those on foot still have the right away.
15. Avoid going off-road.
It might be tempting to take a cart on a joy ride off the road, but they are not designed to handle anything crazy terrains. Golf carts were initially designed for the golf course, but are now also used on smooth roads. Trying to go over rocks, hills and more off the road is just a recipe for disaster.
Carts and low-speed vehicles are handy, as long as they are used responsibly. Taking a few extra precautions can keep the roads safe. No one wants to be on the wrong end of an unfortunate accident because they were not being responsible.