Golf carts are well known for their use on golf courses; however, in communities such as The Villages in Florida, they are a popular method of transportation. It is estimated that more than 50,000 golf carts are owned among residents of The Villages. You can find them everywhere – from golf courses to driveways, on the roads, and in parking lots at such places as Wal-Mart and Publix. With the prevalence of golf carts within The Villages, golf cart accidents can be common.
Within The Villages, many residents own golf carts in addition to their cars. These travel at approximately 20 miles per hour on a battery pack that lasts for roughly 40 miles before it needs to be recharged. Most people are satisfied with having a convenient mode of transportation that is less expensive and easier to maintain than a car. Others make a hobby of their golf carts; the Streetrod Club is known for modifying their golf carts to resemble other vehicles (for example, a classic roadster, vintage truck, or even a Hummer). It is also possible to “hack” a golf cart to make it travel at a higher rate of speed (sometimes up to 40 miles an hour), which saves time running errands, visiting friends, or just taking a joy ride.
Golf carts were not originally designed for this type of use, and many important safety features have been added to compensate. Seat belts must be installed, if they are to be used. Headlights, covers, and windshields are all options that cost extra when purchasing a golf cart. While it is an added expense, these features are a wise investment when driving at night, in the rain, or in very hot weather.
With so many golf carts out and about in The Villages, it is natural that accidents occur. These can happen when a driver maneuvers the golf cart off the road, takes too sharp of a turn, or collides with a curb or bump in the road. Unrestrained riders can fall out of the golf cart; this is especially dangerous for children, as their smaller stature often causes them to land on their heads. Golf carts are not stable enough to prevent rollover, nor can they brake as steadily as a traditional car. There also exists the possibility that a golf cart driver is speeding, not properly trained, or even intoxicated. The Villages offers a Golf Cart Safety Clinic; if you do not want to take this class, brochures on golf cart safety are available. Florida's traffic laws apply to golf carts as well as cars, so be sure to be familiar with them before operating a golf cart.
As of June 2011, it is estimated that ten residents of The Villages have died as the result of golf cart accidents within the last five years. Golf cart accidents are a very real danger. Drive safely and use good judgment to avoid a potential tragedy.