Golf Cart’s Not the Safest Mode of Transportation

Many Americans—especially teens and adolescents who are not able to drive—are finding that the use of golf carts as an alternative means of transportation is convenient and cost effective.  But, the increase in use is also pointing to an increase in the number of <"http://www.yourlawyer.com/practice_areas/product_liability">golf cart related injuries, say researchers at the University of Alabama at Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences.

“Golf carts are becoming a popular way to get around in some neighborhoods, particularly for adolescents and teenagers who cannot yet drive a car. A lot of people perceive golf carts as little more than toys, but our findings suggest they can be quite dangerous, especially when used on public roads,” Gerald McGwin, associate director of the Center for Injury Sciences and a professor of epidemiology, said.  McGwin and colleagues reported that there were over 48,255 golf cart-related injuries between 2002-2005, with the highest injury rates were among males ages 10 to 19 and males over age 80; fractures and head traumas were among the most common injuries.  The study was published in June’s The Journal of Trauma: Injury, Infection and Critical Care.

“Some communities encourage golf cart use as a primary means of transportation because of their low emissions, quiet operation, and presumed safety. There is little federal regulation, and most states do not require operators to be of a certain age, use any sort of safety equipment, or obtain an operator’s license,” McGwin said.  McGwin says safety standards are needed and manufacturers should be required to provide safety education materials to consumers; helmets and seat belts should be used, particularly when driven on public roads; and when designing golf cart paths, developers need to address gradient, sharpness of curves, and proximity to other hazards.  “More stringent safety standards should be applied to the design and use of golf carts, particularly those operated on public roads,” McGwin said.

Meanwhile, late last week E-Z-GO, in collaboration with the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), issued a recall for about 16,500 of its electric- and gas-powered Fleet RXV, Freedom RXV, and RXV Shuttle 2+2 golf cars.  The carts were manufactured in the US by E-Z-GO, of Augusta, Georgia, a Textron Company, and were recalled as the carts’ hip restraints can detach at the base, posing a fall and injury risk.  E-Z-GO received 20 reports of hip restraints breaking, including nine reports of broken bones and abrasions from falls.

Model names and the E-Z-GO logo are printed on the sides and front panel of all three vehicles. Serial numbers range from 9300001-9300188 and 5000000-5021328 and are printed on a plate attached to the steering column and the front and rear frames.  Carts were sold by E-Z-GO and independent golf car dealers nationwide from January-June 2008 and retailed for between $7,000 and $9,000.  Consumers should contact the nearest E-Z-GO dealer to arrange for a free repair; E-Z-GO and E-Z-GO dealers are contacting known owners.  For additional information, consumers can contact E-Z-GO at 800-774-3946 between 8:30 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. ET Monday through Friday or visit the firm’s Website at www.ezgo.com.

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