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Navigating the Hazards: Golf Cart Accidents on Streets and Roadways

Serving Families Throughout Jacksonville
Golf Carts

Tips for taking your Golf Cart off the green and onto the street.

Golf carts aren’t just for golf courses anymore. They are becoming increasingly more common on streets and roadways as a convenient mode of transportation in many communities. As we see more and more golf carts on roadways, we also see a parallel increase in accidents involving golf carts and other street vehicles, such as cars, trucks and motorcycles.

Are golf carts street-legal?

That very much depends on specific criteria and modifications that vary by state and local laws. Street-legal golf carts must be equipped with safety features such as headlights, taillights, turn signals, mirrors, and seat belts. They are also often required to have a vehicle identification number (VIN), registration, and insurance.

*Once a golf cart has been modified to meet or exceed a speed of 20mph, it is considered a Low-Speed Vehicle (LSV) and is considered a motor vehicle under Federal Law.

CLICK HERE to learn more about the differences between a golf cart vs. LSV.

Do I need a driver’s license to drive a golf cart on the street?
These rules also vary by state as well as by environment and type of golf cart. In most states, to take a golf cart out of a recreational environment (golf course, closed community, private property, etc.) and into a utilitarian environment (street, roadway, or other public access thoroughfare), the driver must have a driver’s license or permit (and there must be a licensed driver with them).

CLICK HERE to learn more about state-by-state rules and regulations related to the operation of golf carts on roadways.

The Rising Tide of Golf Cart Accidents

  • According to The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) there were an estimated 147,696 golf cart-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments between 2008 and 2018.
  • According to a study by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, an estimated 13,000 golf cart-related accidents occur on public roads and streets annually in the United States.
  • These accidents result in an average of 40% more severe injuries than those that occur on golf courses.
  • Golf cart injuries among children often result in traumatic brain injuries, with 1.6 per 100,000 kids experiencing severe head damage.

Accident Locations

  • Many golf cart accidents happen in planned communities, retirement villages, and resort areas where golf carts are commonly used as a primary mode of transportation.
  • Intersections, parking lots, and areas with limited visibility are particularly dangerous.

Understanding the Causes

  • Mixing with Motor Vehicles: Despite their slower speeds, golf carts often share the road with cars and trucks, leading to collisions, especially at intersections or when crossing busy streets.
  • Inadequate visibility and lack of structural protection for golf cart occupants, especially in the event of a collision with larger vehicles, can make sharing the road with bigger, faster and heavier motor vehicles incredibly risky.
  • Lack of Safety Features: Unlike cars, golf carts typically lack essential safety features such as doors, seat belts, mirrors, lights, airbags, and reinforced frames. This leaves occupants vulnerable to injury in the event of a collision or rollover.
  • Driver Inexperience: When driving on the street, state-mandated road rules apply to golf carts as well as traditional motor vehicles. Many golf cart operators lack formal training or experience in handling these vehicles on public roads. As a result, they may not be fully aware of traffic laws, road signs, or safe driving practices, increasing the likelihood of accidents.

Promoting Safety on the Road
Here are some golf cart safety tips to keep you and your passengers safe on the road.

  • Limit Passengers
  • Obey Traffic Laws
  • Don’t Get Distracted
  • Take It Easy on Turns
  • Reduce Speeds
  • Beware of Sudden Starts or Stops
  • Watch Out for Inclement Weather
  • Yield to Pedestrians

While golf carts offer a convenient and eco-friendly means of transportation, their increasing presence on streets and roadways has brought new safety challenges.