Golf carts are a way of life for people in The Villages and across Florida where carts are a popular way to get around all year. They can also be dangerous, as a slew of accidents in The Villages alone show the serious and life-threatening injuries that can come in these crashes.
The below guide is provided to help individuals become more knowledgeable about golf carts and to assist with teaching drivers and riders how to stay safe while traveling by golf cart.
Golf Cart Accidents and Injuries in The Villages
More than 18,000 people nationwide are injured each year in golf cart accidents, according to data compiled by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Those crashes can cause a variety of injuries, from relatively minor cuts, bumps and bruises, to broken bones, spinal injuries and traumatic brain injuries.
The Villages sees an average of 136 golf cart accidents each year, according to a recent study by local healthcare providers. Those collisions result in an average of 65 hospitalizations and 9 people disabled or killed annually, the study found.
Older residents are more likely to be injured in golf cart accidents in The Villages, according to the data.
- 50 or younger (11%)
- 51-60 (9%)
- 61-70 (28%)
- 71-80 (36%)
- 81 or older (15%)
Notably, only about one accident per year in The Villages actually occurs on a golf course. Crashes happen much more frequently in these locations:
- Public streets (63%)
- Golf cart paths (28%)
- Parking lots or home driveways (8%)
- Golf courses (1%)
- Other (7%)
Golf cart crashes most commonly involve collisions with cars or trucks, the study concluded. These accidents are particularly harmful for people in golf carts, which offer little or no physical protection from oncoming vehicles.
Common types of golf cart collisions include:
- Car/truck (28%)
- Stationary object (19%)
- Rollover (10%)
- Other golf carts (10%)
- No collision or rollover (4%)
- Bicycle (2%)
- Pedestrian (1%)
- Other/unknown (26%)
Ejections and Seatbelts
One of the biggest risks in a golf cart accident is that drivers and passengers may be ejected from their vehicles. Ejections, which can also happen when a cart stops short or makes a sharp turn, often result in serious and even life-threatening injuries.
More than half (55%) of golf cart ejections in The Villages result in injuries requiring hospitalization, according to the study. Some 15% of ejections cause death or disability, researchers found.
Fortunately, golf cart owners can limit the risk of ejection by equipping their vehicles with working seatbelts. These safety devices keep drivers and passengers in their seats, particularly during rollover accidents in which the vehicle’s canopy and side structure provide some protection.
Many carts come without seatbelts in order to accommodate golfers who frequently get in and out of the vehicles while they’re playing. The vehicles can be easily upgraded to include seatbelts, however, at minimal expense.
Types of Golf Carts
Golf carts - as their name suggests - are designed as a way to travel golf courses without having to manually lug around all of your clubs.
In places like The Villages, they are frequently used off course as a popular way to get from Point A to Point B. That is especially true for seniors who want the freedom that comes with being mobile.
Although many are sparsely equipped, new carts increasingly look and act like small cars. They can also be spruced up with a wide variety of accessories, including larger tires and aluminum wheels.
Golf carts are legally defined as vehicles whose maximum speed is 20 miles per hour or less. Carts that can go faster are considered low-speed vehicles for regulatory purposes.
Golf carts are often gas-powered, using a 4-stroke engine and getting about seven miles per gallon of unleaded fuel. As with cars and trucks, electric carts are becoming increasingly available for both golfers and off-course users.
Carts come in a wide array of makes, models and sizes. They are commonly 7.6’ in length, 4’ wide and 5.6’ high, built to seat up to four people. Smaller single-person carts and larger eight-seaters can also be seen across Florida and throughout the Villages.
How to Maintain a Golf Cart
Golf cart maintenance is a crucial safety precaution that helps reduce the risk of an accident caused by a vehicle breaking down or malfunctioning.
It starts with annual inspections and tune-ups. By having your golf cart inspected each year, you can spot and fix problems before they get worse or result in a breakdown.
During the inspection, a cart technician will take a closer look at the vehicle’s engine or electric battery to ensure that it is in proper working order, that oil and fuel levels are adequate and that cables are not corroded or cracked. The vehicle’s tires, suspension, steering and brakes will also be tested to make sure that coils, axles, wheel bearings and tire pressure are up to standard.
Carts that are classified as low-speed vehicles must be registered and equipped with headlamps, tail lights, turn signals and stop lights, among other requirements. Low-speed vehicle inspection includes testing each of these features.
Owners of gas-powered carts should also change oil, oil filters and air filters as needed. For electric cart owners, it is important to regularly clean the battery and cables to avoid corrosion.
How a Villages Golf Cart Accident Lawyer Can Help
Golf cart accidents can and do happen, even for the most cautious drivers and responsible owners. If you or a loved one has been injured in a collision, a Villages golf cart accident lawyer can help you get back on your feet with the full compensation available under the law.
Our office is conveniently located in the Villages. We are also proud to represent clients throughout the area, including in Ocala, Leesburg, Lady Lake, Wildwood, Summerfield and beyond. Call (352) 205-7559 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation with a the Villages golf cart accident lawyer.