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Avoiding Golf Cart Injuries

Why are golf carts so dangerous for children?
Written by Shriya Patel M.D./ M.B.A. candidate with Lyse Deus, M.Ed, Julie Belkowitz, M.D., M.P.H.,. and Oneith Cadiz, M.D.


Why are golf carts so dangerous for children? Golf carts were designed to help adults travel around a golf course with their equipment (Horvath). So, these vehicles were made with adult riders in mind, not children. Kids are not safe on the carts because they are smaller than adults, therefore the seatbelts are not designed to restrain a child, they often cannot reach the floor of a golf cart and can lose their balance easier when the vehicle is moving (Korioth). Also, kids don’t have the arm strength needed to hold on and keep themselves inside the cart. Lastly, children don’t have the training to drive golf carts and may not even be tall enough to safely reach the pedals.
When comparing golf carts and cars, we find that golf carts are more unsafe than cars. Golf carts lack many of the common safety features in cars like 3-point seat belts and airbags that keep kids and teens safe when they are driving or are just a passenger. Golf carts have a maximum speed limit between 12-19.9 mph but are allowed to drive on roads where cars can be going up to 30-35 mph making them dangerous on the road.
Even though there are risks, golf carts are becoming a popular way for children to get around their neighborhoods or to travel along roads. As a result, golf cart injuries among the pediatric population have been on the rise (Marchioli). According to a study completed by the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, there were over 6,500 injuries in kids due to golf carts in 2019 alone. These injuries included cuts, muscle strains, broken bones and traumatic brain injuries, including concussions. Injuries typically occur when children fall out or jump off, get hit by or are in the golf cart when they tip over (Korioth).
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that children not ride in golf carts as they are not designed for the safe transportation of children (Watson).
Whether they are a passenger or the driver, golf carts prove to be much more dangerous for kids than cars due to their limited oversight. Here are some guidelines to ensure your child stays safe if they do use a golf cart to get around.

Driver Hints

  • Florida law now requires that children have a learner’s permit or driver’s license to operate a golf cart on public roads. 
  • Golf carts do not have the same safety features as cars, but they do have some like lap seatbelts and handgrip bars. If your child does drive a golf cart, ensure that they know how to use the safety features that the cart does have.

Passenger Tips

  • Children should sit with their backs pressed up against the seat and ensure the hip restraint is snug in their lap.
  • Riders should place both feet on the floor and hold on to the handgrips nearest to them to prevent a fall or ejection from the cart, especially during turns or when riding on slopes or uneven ground.

Owner Suggestions

  • Golf cart owners need to make sure that their vehicles are well-maintained and that all parts are working properly.
  • They should only allow people that are of age to operate the vehicle and children over the age of 6 to ride in them.
  • They need to tell all passengers and drivers about safety features the vehicle is equipped with such has hip restraints and hand grips.
  • Owners should not modify their vehicles after purchase to raise them higher off the ground or go faster than the manufacturer intended because these changes can increase the risk of injury.
When used properly, golf carts can be a safe and easy way to get around; however improper use can be dangerous and cause injury, especially to children. With the above suggestions in mind, golf carts can be a little safer for everyone.
For more information about golf cart safety, visit  or contact the Injury Free Coalition for Kids, a program supported by The Children’s Trust at 305-243-9080.


Horvath, Kyle Z et al. “Fun ride or risky transport: Golf cart-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments from 2007 through 2017.” Journal of safety research vol. 75 (2020): 1-7. doi:10.1016/j.jsr.2020.10.002
Korioth, Trisha. “Golf cart injuries more common in kids than adults.” Parent Plus Column for AAP News. August 1, 2021.
Marchioli M, et al. Nationwide Injury Trends Due to Motorized Golf Carts Among the Pediatric Population: An Observational Study of the NEISS Database from 2010-2019. Presented at: AAP National Conference & Exhibition; Oct. 8-11, 2021; (virtual meeting).
Watson, Daniel S et al. “Golf cart-related injuries in the U.S.” American journal of preventive medicine vol. 35,1 (2008): 55-9. doi:10.1016/j.amepre.2008.03.029


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