Evolution in Golf Cart Capabilities Outpacing Safety Improvements
Golf carts are not just used on golf courses anymore. They are increasingly owned by homeowners in private gated communities, retirement communities and in places of employment. Many of these golf carts vaguely resemble a traditional golf cart and are lifted, extremely fast and increasingly dangerous.
They can now reach speeds of up to 60 miles an hour and can also travel up to 40 miles on a single charge. Many of these golf carts are even street legal. While golf carts are now customized to move at speeds equivalent to motor vehicles and share the same roads, their safety equipment has not evolved at a comparable pace.
The increase in the use, speed and power of golf carts has resulted in an increase in Georgia golf cart accidents that may result in serious injuries and even fatalities. Those who do not have a valid driver’s license frequently drive golf carts. They are also not subject to any federal regulations so they are not equipped with any safety features. Golf carts lack seat belts, air bags, roll bars, stability mechanisms and other safety equipment often found on other motor vehicles. The most common accidents involving golf carts are rollovers where passengers or the driver are thrown from the vehicle.
For example, five Augusta high school girls recently ended up in the hospital following a serious golf cart accident. One of the girls suffered a fractured skull and a broken pelvis. The girls were driving the golf cart on a neighborhood street when it tipped over. In Columbia County Georgia, where the accident occurred, the sheriff's office permits golf carts to be operated on roads when the posted speed limit is less than 35 miles per hour. The law requires that the person operating the golf cart possess a valid driver’s license or a learner’s permit as well as the presence of someone 21 or older in the cart. Because the driver in the Augusta accident was only 15 years old, she may be charged with driving without a license.
In North Carolina last summer, three boys, ages 11, 8 and 6, were injured when they drove underneath a tractor-trailer truck parked in a maintenance lot at a country club. The 11-year-old boy's injuries were life threatening. These crashes point out the potential dangers of children being able to operate golf carts, especially on city streets. This is especially true when statistics show that 40% of the 13,000 golf cart accidents a year involve children under the age of 16. Each city in Georgia sets its own age requirements for operators of golf carts.
While young inexperienced operators are a frequent cause of golf cart accidents, there are other common causes of golf cart accidents. One of the most common causes is drinking and driving a golf cart especially when operating a golf cart at excessive speeds. Golf carts often rollover on sharp turns taken at high rates of speed when the driver’s judgment is impaired. This risk of rollover accidents increased when golf carts are modified by lift kits, large off-road tires and similar customization that can make them unstable and top-heavy. A number of parties may be responsible for injuries suffered by the driver or passengers of a golf cart including:
- Drivers who are speeding
- Intoxicated golf cart operators
- Manufacturers of defective golf carts
- Shops that provide unsafe modifications or defective parts
- Drunk drivers of motor vehicles who collide with golf carts
- Public entities who design unsafe street and roadways
- Distracted drivers of golf carts or other motor vehicles
- Owners of golf carts who entrust them to inexperienced, unlicensed or unsafe drivers
If you or someone you love has been injured in a golf cart accident, our Georgia golf cart accident lawyers carefully investigate the facts and circumstances of accidents involving our clients whether the result of negligence of a driver or product defect in the golf cart. Our Georgia golf cart accident attorneys are committed to providing the legal service consistent with the highest standards of the legal profession. If you have been involved in a Georgia golf cart accident, you may be eligible for compensation for the losses you suffer.
The Atlanta Georgia golf cart accident lawyers of Montlick and Associates are available to assist clients throughout all of Georgia and the Southeast, including but not limited to Albany, Athens, Atlanta, Augusta, Columbus, Gainesville, Macon, Marietta, Rome, Roswell, Savannah, Smyrna, Valdosta, Warner Robins and all smaller cities and rural areas in the state. No matter where you are located our attorneys are just a phone call away, and we will even come to you. Call us 24 hours a day/7 days a week for your Free Consultation at 1-800-LAW-NEED (1-800-529-6333). You can also visit us online at www.montlick.com and use our Free Case Evaluation Form or 24-hour Live Online Chat.