The Concerns of Golf Cart and Golf Cart Path Design

According to a study conducted by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission, the country sees 15,000 emergency room trips due to golf cart accidents every year. Of all the reported golf cart accidents, 10% involve a rollover. Let’s take a look at what causes rollovers to be so common in golf cart accidents.

Golf carts most often only have brakes on their rear axle. This is the industry standard, despite the fact that this compromises the stability of the vehicle, especially at high speeds. Rollovers occur most often when drivers lose control of the vehicle while traveling downhill. We know from the numerous accidents that happen on the road that rolling front tires combined with skidding rear tires causes a great deal of instability while steering. However, this instability is usually not consequential on level ground and traveling at the low speeds that golf carts often travel at. On a downhill slope, however, the combination of rolling front tires and skidding rear tires can create a fishtail effect. This fishtail effect often causes drivers to think that a brake failure has occurred, causing them to press down even harder on the brake pedal. This eventually creates a complete lock of the brake, and creates an out-of-control skidding.

Depending on the golf course, golf cart drivers may be frequently presented with downhill slope hazards while operating their cart. Many golf courses have terrain with lots of short hills, sharp turns, and narrow driving paths. These conditions make it necessary to manufacture golf carts with adequate braking mechanisms for courses with sharp downhill slopes.

Within the golf cart manufacturing and design industry, there are not strict rules on the creation of braking mechanisms. There are no required tests for downhill braking. Similarly, there are no safety standards for the design of golf cart paths. Golf cart manufacturers often provide inadequate recommendations on how to account for turning radius or a maximum path slope as their path warnings are ambiguous and provide no quantification. The standards for golf cart design only have requirements and testing for dynamic braking on level ground. Because cart path designs are often very sloped and lack a determinant level of specificity, golf cart drivers and passengers are routinely subjected to dangerous terrain. These terrain concerns are not addressed by the American National Standards Institute on golf carts. The ANSI golf cart standard states that carts should not exceed 15 mph while traveling on flat ground. However, this speed can easily be exceeded when driving on a downhill slope.

After being recently involved in a golf cart accident, I began to do some research on golf cart liability. This site from Evans Moore law, a South Carolina golf cart lawyer was very helpful in explaining the compensation that may be awarded to me. Definitely worth checking out if you have been injured in a golf cart accident.

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