Golf cart safety issues
by Laura Stone | July 6, 2018 6:12 pm
Last Updated: July 6, 2018 at 2:21 pm
With the onset of summer, Clarendon County is once again seeing an increased number of golf carts on its streets. While the golf cart has become a convenient and easy way to get from one place to another, residents and visitors must abide by South Carolina state law with regard to golf cart usage.
South Carolina golf cart laws were enacted to protect drivers of both golf carts and of other motorized vehicles on the roads. While golf carts appear to be a safer option because they are slow-moving and easy to operate, injuries are on the rise, as golf carts offer no true protection to those inside.
Golf carts were originally designed to be driven on golf courses over short distances with very little traffic and almost no obstructions. However, with the increase in popularity has come an increase in injury rates.
In “Golf Cart-Related Injuries in the U.S.” published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine in 2008, trends in national golf cart injuries were analyzed. The study spanned 17 years from 1990-2006. According to the study, there was a 132% increase in golf-cart injuries over the study period, with an estimated total of 147,696 injuries, with 31% of the cases being children under the age of 16. During the study period, 7.4% of the injuries required hospitalization. The most common location was a sports facility, with 70% of injuries.
However, in the last decade, those numbers seem to have drastically changed. In Myrtle Beach, WMBF News Anchor Christel Bell published an article “Study: Golf cart-related injuries on the rise in Horry County” in 2017.
According to Bell’s article, in a 32-month period of time, “…the most common location was the public street, and falling out of moving golf carts was the most common mechanism, followed by roller and golf carts being struck by a motor vehicle.” Bell states 13% of patients required intensive care, with head injuries becoming more and more common.
In consulting with Clarendon County Coroner Bucky Mock, he states there have been no fatalities in Clarendon County due to golf cart accidents, but he is concerned over alleged reports of golf carts on busy highways, sometimes driven by children.
The first step to avoiding injury when enjoying your golf cart comes by obeying current laws for any cart driven on public roads. In South Carolina, a golf cart driver must be 16 years old and have a legal driver’s license. Even with a licensed adult in the front seat, it is not legal for a non-licensed minor to operate a cart.
If a minor is driving and an accident occurs, parents could not only be held responsible for any damage, they could also be held civilly liable for “negligent entrustment” for an accident caused by the child. On top of this, the parents may face criminal charges for child endangerment.
The golf cart must be registered and the fee is $5. This permit must be replaced every five years or if the resident moves. To obtain a permit, visit http://www.scdmvonline.com/Vehicle-Owners/Types-Of-Vehicles/Golf-Cart and follow the instructions. When driving the cart, the driver must have his or her driver’s license, the registration certificate and proof of liability insurance for the golf cart.
Owners may legally drive their golf carts during daylight hours and on roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or less, although they may cross a road with a higher speed limit if needed. This trip can have a maximum road distance of 4 miles from the registered location for the cart, whether home or business.
As with any other motorized vehicle, it is illegal to consume alcohol while operating a golf cart.
Those caught violating any of these laws could face fines and the possibility of up to 30 days in jail. However, obeying these laws has another result: increased safety for children and adults on the roadways this summer.
“I just want people to be aware of the safety factors and laws,” said Mock. “We would hate to see a tragedy happen.”