GOLF CART ACCIDENT | Safety Concerns Rise | More Golf Carts take to the Streets | FLORIDA

STATEWIDE – Recently several tragic accidents involving golf carts have made headline news. Kristopher Seluga, a mechanical engineering and safety expert, says he is frustrated every time he reads of another death or injury to a child. “In so many of the articles they use the term ‘freak accident,”’ he says. “It’s not. It happens all the time.”

A golf cart may not have the safety features needed for a slow-moving vehicle. More and more Florida communities are allowing golf carts to be driven on select city streets. Each year, about 13,000 golf cart-related accidents require emergency room visits, and that number is rising as the economical, fun-to-drive carts become more popular on city streets, says Seluga, who analyzed statistics compiled by the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

Of those 13,000 accidents, about 40 percent of them involve children younger than 16, and half of those are due to a fall from a moving golf cart. No seat belts or other safety features are required, although driving is restricted to streets approved for golf carts by local governments. In Florida, anyone 14 or older may drive a golf cart, even without a driver’s license.

Retirement communities such as Sun City Center and The Villages of Florida conduct annual inspections of golf carts, but require no seat belts. All Sun City Center streets are approved for golf carts, although the carts are not allowed to make right or left turns onto State Road 674. They may, however, travel on a designated golf cart path alongside it and may cross it at three locations. In March of this year, a path was opened to allow golf carts to cross U.S. 301 for access to a Walmart in Wimauma.

The Tampa City Council will hear from the city attorney and police officials at its meeting June 24 regarding the use of golf carts for use on Davis Islands to include short rides including transporting children to sports practices and games. Many Davis Island residents already use them for such purposes.

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