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It’s Golf Cart and ATV Injury Season

It’s Golf Cart and ATV Injury Season

Golf carts are popular for use just about everywhere – neighborhoods, sporting events, large workplaces – and ATVs have long been a staple in outdoorsy Louisiana. But both types of vehicles cause thousands of injuries each year, landing many children in urgent cares and emergency rooms across the country. Here are some numbers:

  • Half of reported golf cart injuries are in kids 12 and under
  • The number of golf cart injuries has increased each year over past 10 years
  • Forty percent of ATV injuries are in children under 16
  • More than 90% of ATV deaths and injuries in those under 16 happened in an adult-sized ATV, as opposed to the recommended youth-sized version

The most common injuries are similar for both golf carts and ATVs -- cuts, followed by fractures, dislocations, and concussions. A rollover on an ATV can cause a child to get pinned underneath it, causing more serious trauma to the chest, abdomen, head or spine.

There are lots of safety pitfalls, but most golf cart injuries happen when someone falls out or jumps off, or when it rolls or tips over. While they can be a convenient way to get around -- and for some parents, less chauffeuring kids around – golf carts are intended for adults and lack safety features. As drivers, young people aren’t as experienced. And as passengers, they are likely smaller, which means they may not reach the floor of the cart and can get off balance easier if things get rocky. Kids may also lack the upper body strength to keep themselves from falling out in those situations.

With ATVs, most injuries occur when children or teens aren’t following the rules, primarily not wearing a helmet, not riding a youth-sized ATV, or riding with a buddy or at night. Riding on public roadways is another big issue, with 60% of ATV deaths happening there. The way ATVs are designed, with a higher center of gravity and off-road tires, doesn’t always mesh with paved or gravel roads. Riding on public roadways is against the law in Louisiana.

Based on the safety risks, the American Academy of Pediatrics in 2022 advised that children under 16 not ride or operate ATVs. And in Louisiana, the current law says an ATV rider should be 21 years or older. To legally operate a golf cart in the state, a driver’s license is required. For the less experienced golf cart drivers, here are some tips to stay safe:

  • Don’t drive while distracted (eating, talking on cell phones, texting, wearing headphones, etc.)
  • Never operate under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
  • Limit the number of people in the golf cart.
  • Don’t go faster than 15 mph.
  • Reduce speed when taking sharp turns.
  • Yield to pedestrians.
  • Be careful when driving over wet, muddy, steep or uneven ground.
  • Put in neutral and remove the key when not in use.
  • Lock the brake before exiting the golf cart.