As golf cart use rises, so do injuries

By Tom Nordlie • Published: September 17th, 2008
Category: Health in a Heartbeat

Nowadays, golf carts aren’t just limited to the links.

They’re used as transportation in airports, retirement communities, college campuses and other large facilities.

But this upswing in popularity has a downside.

According to a study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, the number of cart-related injuries treated in hospital emergency rooms rose more than one-hundred-thirty percent between 1990 and 2006.

During that time, almost one-hundred-fifty-thousand people were hurt, and seven were killed.

About half the injury cases were limited to soft-tissue damage such as bruises and sprains. But some included fractures, concussions or amputations.

The most common injury scenario involved someone jumping or falling from a cart.

Others involved people being struck or run over by carts, collisions between carts, and carts overturning.

So why are all these people getting hurt?

One factor is golf cart construction.

They can reach speeds of twenty-five miles per hour and turn sharply. Yet there are no doors or seat belts to confine passengers.

Driver error probably plays a role in some cases.

And there’s no legal age to operate a cart, which may help explain why more than thirty percent of the injuries happened to children under sixteen.

The researchers concluded that, for safety’s sake, children under six should never ride in golf carts, and no one under sixteen should drive them.

We know that last recommendation will disappoint some young people.

But if they really want to drive something, we do have an alternative to suggest… golf balls.