June 13, 2008 -- Drive a golf cart? Better think safety. The number of golf-cart-related injuries treated at U.S. hospitals rose by 132% from 1990 to 2006, a new study shows.
During that time, nearly 147,700 golf cart injuries were treated at U.S. emergency rooms, rising from 5,772 cases in 1990 to 13,411 cases in 2006, the researchers estimate.
The top problem: Falling or jumping from a golf cart.
Most cases were bruises or other soft-tissue injuries, mainly to the legs and feet. About 31% of the injuries occurred in children.
Golf cart injuries didn't just happen on golf courses. Golf carts have become more widely used, and in some states are allowed on public roads. They're also more powerful than they used to be, note Lara McKenzie, PhD, of Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and colleagues.
Golf Cart Safety Tips
Writing in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, McKenzie's team offers these tips for golf cart safety:
- Drive at a reasonable speed, considering the weather and terrain.
- Brake slowly, especially on downhill slopes.
- Avoid sharp turns at high speeds.
- Passengers should put both feet firmly on the golf cart's floor, keeping their arms and legs inside the cart at all times.
- Sit back in the seat so the hip restraints can help.
- Be prepared to use the handgrip to prevent a fall.
- Use seatbelts, if they're available.
- Consider not letting let kids younger than 6 ride in golf carts and not letting kids younger than 16 drive golf carts.