As demand for golf carts grows, so do injuries among children

Pensacola pediatric trauma director at Studer Family Children’s Hospital applauds new golf cart law that raises driving age.

With their low speeds and easy operation, golf carts have become a popular form of transportation in residential neighborhoods. As demand for golf carts grows, so do injuries among children and adolescents, said Dr. Bryan Weidner, director of pediatric trauma and chief of pediatric surgery at Studer Family Children’s Hospital at Ascension Sacred Heart.

Dr. Weidner applauds a new Florida law that will ban children and young teens from driving golf carts on public streets. Under the new Florida law that takes effect on October 1, teens must be 15 and have a learner’s permit to drive golf carts.

“We’ve treated children as young as 4 who were ejected or fell out of golf carts,” he said. “We’ve also treated children who were passengers or were involved in rollover accidents. Some patients required pediatric ICU level of care.”

According to the American Academy of Pediatrics, more than 6,500 children are injured by golf carts each year. Over a three-year period in Pensacola, 22 children have been treated for golf cart injuries. While some children were drivers, the majority of injuries occurred when they were passengers.

“Golf carts can be dangerous for children and teens both as drivers and passengers,” he said. “Parents won’t let their kids ride a bicycle without a helmet, but they will let their kids drive golf carts without supervision. Children don’t have the motor skills and judgment that is essential for driving.”

To stay safe on golf carts, Dr. Weidner suggests you take these precautions when using a golf cart:

  • Don’t let children ride on your lap.
  • Don’t let children stand on the back of golf carts.
  • Don’t overload with passengers or equipment.
  • Keep arms and legs inside the cart.
  • Stay on the cart until it has come to a complete stop.
  • Wear seat belts when available.

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