Golf Cart Safety by Bryan Carr
Posted: Jan 25, 2016
Golf carts aren’t just for the golf course any more. A growing number of communities are turning to golf carts rather than automobiles as the preferred method of transportation. Golf carts are quieter, more environmentally friendly, and affordable. In 1998 the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) established safety standards for golf carts (called Low Speed Vehicles or LSVs) and mandated they were to be used on "short trips for shopping, social, and recreational purposes primarily within retirement or other planned communities with golf courses." This means they are not appropriate for highways, freeways or busy city streets. Laws regarding the use of golf carts/LSVs vary by state, so you should always check your local laws before operating one. In most cases the cart must be registered and insured, and operated by a licensed driver, although in some places, they can be operated by anyone 14 or over. It’s always best to leave the driving to someone with a driver’s license though. They cannot be operated at night, and are subjected to the same traffic laws as cars regarding speed, yielding, obeying stop signs, driving while intoxicated, and so on. Read on to learn more about golf cart safety.
In most cases, golf carts and LSVs cannot be operated on any street with a speed limit over 35MPH. Golf carts are generally restricted to roads specifically dedicated to them. LSV’s can only be legally operated by someone with a valid driver’s license, while golf carts can be operated by anyone 14 or over. All traffic laws must be obeyed. It’s important to check your local laws before operating one.
Golf cart safety is a real issue. It’s estimated that around 10,000 golf cart injuries occur each year. While carts are required to have brakes, seatbelts, headlights, windshields and rear view mirrors, they are not required to have air bags and are not particularly crash worthy as they aren’t designed to be operated at a high speed or among traffic. This means the risk of serious or fatal injury is much higher if a collision occurs. To prevent them, always drive with caution. Take turns slowly to avoid roll overs, and never ever drink and drive. Use hand signals, and make sure all passengers are safely inside the cart, not standing or on the back platform. Do not use excessive speed or operate carts in severe weather as it cannot protect you from lightning strikes the way a car can. Don’t modify the cart in any way, or overload it. Be mindful of blind spots and always back up slowly. Finally, just like you would if you were driving a car or truck, avoid all distractions including texting, phone calls and eating.
Proper maintenance is crucial for safety. If your steering or brakes don’t feel right, have them looked at right away and do not operate the cart until you are sure everything is functioning properly. Check your tires regularly for any signs of punctures or damage and never drive on underinflated or flat ones. You should also always check for leaks under the cart before operating. Charge only in a clean, dry place and always have a fire extinguisher handy. Never attempt to charge your vehicle in the rain. Use only the approved charging devices and do not modify them in any way, and always test your headlights and brake lights before using your cart. Time spent now caring for your cart and making sure it is in good working order can save you money, pain and heartache later!
About the Author: Bryan Carr is a contributing author and golf course manager with a specialty in landscaping and golf cart repair. He often recommends Blockbuster Golf Cars Inc. to his clients who are looking for top quality golf carts and/or golf cart parts with competitive pricing and minimum hassle. He’s come to rely on their tradition of outstanding service, quality and customer care.
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