Not long along, the only place you’d see golf carts was on golf courses. Now, golf carts are everywhere – especially in non-gated, residential communities. In fact, in my own neighborhood here in Boca Raton, I frequently see children driving golf carts with no adult presence or supervision. No doubt, golf carts are a convenient (and fun) way to get around your town or neighborhood. But ownership comes with serious risks and responsibilities.
Recent studies have shown that of the approximately 150,000 golf cart accidents from 1990 to 2006, about one third involved children under 16. Not surprisingly, these accidents frequently involved serious injuries, as golf carts can overturn or throw occupants off of the golf cart.
What gives parents the false sense of security of allowing their children to drive golf carts? It is difficult to say, but perhaps they are seen more as a toy rather than a motor vehicle.
Under Florida law, golf carts are not allowed to be driven on public roads unless they fall within certain exceptions. One exception includes a city ordinance that allows golf carts on public roads. Here in Boca Raton, for example, golf carts are not allowed on public roads. And yet, again, I frequently see children driving golf carts on public roads. For cities in Palm Beach County that do allow golf carts on public roads, the golf carts must meet specific requirements, including a rearview mirror and red reflectorized warning devices in both the front and rear of the golf cart. Additionally, children under 14 cannot drive golf carts.
Believe it or not, under Florida law golf carts – like cars – are considered “dangerous instrumentalities.” This means that if you own a golf cart and allow another person to drive the golf cart, you have a nondelegable duty to ensure the golf cart is operated properly. If the person driving your golf cart causes an accident, you are responsible. Golf carts can be insured through your homeowner’s insurance policy. So, we recommend you obtain insurance for your golf cart.
Interestingly, golf carts are often confused with low-speed vehicles. Low-speed vehicles are vehicles with a top speed greater than 20 miles per hour, but not greater than 25 miles per hour. Any person operating a low-speed vehicle must have a valid driver’s license and the low-speed vehicle must be registered, titled, and insured with personal injury protection (PIP) and property damage liability (PDL) insurance. Further, low-speed vehicles must have specific safety equipment, including seatbelts.
So before purchasing a golf cart or allowing your child to operate a golf cart, carefully consider the risks and requirements.
If you are involved in a golf cart or low-speed vehicle accident, Barthelette Law is here to help you receive the care you need. It is my mission to give you a sense of comfort and reassurance throughout the personal injury process. Call today (561) 246-4137 or e-mail: [email protected]
1900 Corporate Blvd NW
Suite 215 East
Boca Raton, FL 33431