A new study presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 & Exhibition in Chicago September 18, 2017, shows that an increase in the use of golf carts off the course has caused a significant number of children to be harmed.
Accidental falls have always been a cause for concern. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), nearly 20% of falls result in some type of injury. In the United States, accidental falls are the most common cause of nonfatal injuries in people over the age of 65. Additionally, three million older patients are treated in the ER for falls, and 800,000 patients are hospitalized for falls each year. Major efforts have been taken to prevent these accidental falls from occurring.
Seven years ago, Alexis Flores was 15 years old and a sophomore at Pharr-San Juan-Alamo High School in Pharr, Texas, participating in the student athletic trainer program and playing third base on the high school's softball team. On September 9, 2010, her supervising trainer asked her to board a two-seater golf cart with himself and another student and drove toward the football field to set up water and equipment for a junior varsity football game. He took a sharp left turn, and Flores was ejected from the cart onto her right knee, tearing her ACL and shattering her dreams of playing softball again that spring.
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.
Last year, approximately 15,000 Americans were sent to the emergency room for injuries sustained in golf cart accidents. Unfortunately, this number is steadily increasing as golf carts today are used in a variety of settings, both on and off the golf course. In a study led by the Center for Injury Research and Policy, the number of golf cart-related injuries rose by a staggering 132% from 1990 to 2006.