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Serious Golf Cart Injuries Involving Children on the Rise

Children Playing on Golf CartGolf carts are no longer confined to the course. As a result, serious injuries to children are on the rise, according to a new study. It found that more than a third of children hurt while using golf carts during an 11-year period required treatment in intensive care units.

Golf Carts Used as Transportation

Residents of planned communities and visitors to large resorts increasingly use golf carts for everyday transportation because they are convenient, energy-efficient, environmentally friendly, and cheaper to operate than cars. However, as the number of golf carts on the road increases, injuries are also on the rise.

A previous report in the Journal of Preventive Medicine found that injuries rose 132 percent from 1990 to 2006. According to the Consumer Product Safety Commission, almost 18,000 golf cart-related injuries requiring emergency room treatment occurred in 2015.

Children’s Injuries Involving Golf Carts

In addition, children are also at greater risk for injury, accounting for nearly one-third of golf cart injuries. Of those, 50 percent of the injuries are related to falling or jumping from a golf cart or the cart overturning. Children are at highest risk for falls, and falls are twice as likely to cause a head or neck injury.

The latest study confirms that many golf cart injuries involving children are serious. As reported by the American Academy of Pediatrics, researchers examined data from a Pennsylvania's state trauma center and identified 108 patients under age 18 who were treated between January 2004 and December 2014 for injuries they sustained while using a golf cart. The study revealed:

  • There was one fatality, and intensive care unit (ICU) admission was required in 36 percent of the patients.
  • More than three-quarters of the children (76 percent) broke at least one bone. Skull fractures were more prevalent than extremity fractures.
  • More than a quarter of the children (27 percent) sustained a concussion, while between 25 percent and 30 percent of children had intracranial injury and bleeding within the skull.

"Just because golf carts don't usually reach speeds other recreational vehicles can, this doesn't mean they are harmless," said Mariano Garay, MD, a Penn State College of Medicine researcher who co-authored the study.

Given the risks associated with golf carts, we urge our readers to treat these vehicles like they would a car or truck. That means only operating one if you have a driver’s license, obeying speed limits, following the rules of the road, and avoiding drugs and alcohol when behind the wheel.

If you or someone you love has suffered serious injury in a California golf cart crash, don’t hesitate to contact a San Diego injury lawyer at the Law Offices of Robert Vaage for a free consultation.