It’s September already. Summer BBQs are being replaced by back-to-school and the smell of fall is in the air. When my oldest two children were in elementary school, this time of year meant that I would cruise them over to school in our custom golf car and wait in the parent drop off line. Back then, we were the only family in the parent drop off line in a golf car and my kids felt so cool. Today, parent drop off lines around the country have scores of golf cars. It is not uncommon for teens to zip through neighborhoods in golf cars and many communities are transitioning to “golf car friendly” status. It’s true- golf cars aren’t just for the course anymore. Parents have been golf car innovators and have turned them into the family people mover. Perfect for hauling beach gear, sports equipment, and zipping around to the pool or at family events golf cars are now a necessity for many families.
With the increased and diversified use of golf cars over the past decade last comes an inevitable increase in golf car accidents, particularly among children. According to a study published by the New England Journal of Preventative Medicine, the number of golf car related injuries is on the rise and approximately one third involve children.
State, local, and community laws and safety regulations are struggling to catch up with the explosive use of golf cars. It is time to brush up on some back to school golf car safety because it is important that we all do our part.
Understand the Law
Do you own a golf car or an LSV? Technically speaking, golf cars and LSVs aren’t the same and are regulated differently. While a standard golf car typically reaches a maximum speed of 18mph and does not always have safety features, LSVs are equipped with seat belts and brake lights, etc. In Virginia, for example, golf cars may only be driven during daylight hours unless equipped with proper safety features. They may only be driven on roads where the speed limit is 25mph or less. An LSV has a maximum speed of about 25 miles per hour and comes with standard safety equipment and therefore may be driven on highways with a speed limit of 35mph or less. Every jurisdiction is different, so understand the law before you hit the streets.
It Isn’t a Car
Although golf cars make for great people movers, they aren’t cars. They do not handle roadways as smoothly as cars and they have a much greater chance of flipping over. In most cases, golf cars and LSVs only have rear axle brakes. Be cautious when cruising down hills or making turns.
Enforce Clear Rules
We all understand the dangers of hitting the pavement after falling off our bikes. Children typically wear helmets and even knee guards when riding bikes. It is important to take precautions with golf cars as well. The greatest risk for golf car passengers is ejection. Consider requiring that small children wear a helmet when riding your golf car and install safety belts. Alert family and friends who may also transport your children about the rules and consistently enforce them.
Golf Cars Aren’t for Babies
The Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital recommends that children under the age of six not be transported in golf cars. Even golf cars equipped with safety features do not provide adequate safety for babies or any child under the age of six. It may be tempting to hold your baby in your lap or even strap a toddler into a booster seat with golf car seat belts, but resist the urge. It just isn’t safe.
About the Author: The Owner of WHEELZ Custom Carts & Accessories, Julie Starr was one of the industry’s first online retailers of golf car products. Her eCommerce store, www.WHEELZLLC.com, has been serving golf car owners since 2008 and the store remains a popular online shopping experience for golf car owners who want to take their golf cars to the next level.