Teenage golf cart drivers: know the risks and set ground rules

Posted by: Cathy Eng in Community Involvement, News

No matter where you live in World Golf Village, Nocatee or other St. Johns communities, it is a common site to see groups of teenagers (sometimes preteens) driving golf carts. While they travel at relatively safe speeds, it is important that they realize the risks. And there are plenty of risks.

Just last year, a teenage girl in South Florida flipped a golf cart she was driving with her friends. The girl was airlifted to a nearby hospital with severe brain injuries. She later died of those injuries. Another teen, a local named Olivia Love, fell off the back of a golf cart and sustained a terrible head injury. She is still relearning how to walk and talk.

Although most teens are fairly safe, the facts remain: These are open-air vehicles with no seatbelts that flip over easily. Add to that distracted drivers who might be tempted to impress friends by jumping a curb or taking a turn quickly in a high traffic neighborhood, and the risks increase significantly.

Between 2015 and 2017 alone, golf cart accidents led to an estimated 35,000 trips to the emergency room, according to the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

But, setting rules for these young drivers can help to mitigate many of these risks.

First, don’t let younger kids drive your golf cart alone. Golf cart drivers can be as young as 14 and do not need a license. However, these young drivers aren’t familiar with right-of-way rules and other driving guidelines, which can easily lead to an accident.

Also, set simple ground rules for safe driving and post them in the cart. For example:

  1. Be courteous to other drivers and obey the rules of the road.
  2. Only carry passengers that you have seats for. Do not try squeezing in extra passengers and NO hanging off the side or back.
  3. Do not drive on sidewalks.
  4. Slow down around other vehicles, bicycles and pedestrians.
  5. Avoid distractions and keep your eyes on the road. No phones!
  6. Always use hand signals to indicate upcoming turns as well as your turn signals.
  7. Always check blind spots before turning and looking before backing up.
  8. Avoid sharp turns at fast speeds. Remember, golf carts are not designed for quick turns.
  9. Always, always, always yield to pedestrians.
  10. Do not leave keys in the golf cart while unattended.

Finally, develop a team of parent lookouts around the neighborhood to keep watch for reckless golf cart driving. Let other parents know when their kids are driving their golf carts recklessly and encourage them to let you know as well. It just might help to save lives.


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