A growing number of people in retirement communities across the country are driving golf carts for more than just sport due to their convenience, efficiency, and low costs. Despite their increased use on public roads, their overall safety record is not tracked nationally, leading to concerns about how they are used and regulated. Golf carts are designed to travel at less than 20 miles per hour and are not required to meet any federal safety standards, including the installation of seatbelts. Regulation comes at the state level. The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimated that in 2015, nearly 18,000 golf cart-related injuries nationwide required emergency room treatment to people of all ages.
Many law enforcement officers have questioned whether these issues are overblown and feel that the carts could be safe and an asset if guidelines, education, and enforcement are carried out, and if well-designed roads and infrastructure are provided. However, because these vehicles were not designed for street use, critics feel this is precisely why they should be further regulated. Today, 24 states have statutes that allow localities to regulate golf cart use on public streets, said Amanda Essex, a policy specialist in transportation for the National Conference of State Legislatures. And in five other states, legislation has been introduced to regulate their use.
At least 375 municipalities have ordinances that permit golf carts on public roads. The growth is fairly recent, with dozens of municipalities enacting legislation every year. Many accidents occur because of driver negligence, like distraction or intoxication. Despite the limitations in speed with these golf carts, drivers are often as vulnerable as bicyclists and pedestrians when traveling on public roads. With the increased data collection on these kinds of accidents, further regulation seems inevitable.
Benny Agosto, Jr. is a partner at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner in Houston, Texas. For over 66 years, Abraham Watkins has successfully represented injured people and families who fall victim to catastrophes, including multiple golf cart ejection cases. Our attorneys have the knowledge, experience and resources necessary to obtain just compensation their clients. For more information, please contact the office of Benny Agosto, Jr. at Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner, by letter at 800 Commerce Street, Houston, Texas 77002, or by phone at 713-396-3964.