I recently read a study conducted by the United States Consumer Products Safety Commission. The organization reported that every year, 15,000 people go to the emergency room due to golf cart accidents. Of these 15,000 incidents, approximately 1,500 involve a rollover. I was intrigued at what makes rollovers so prevalent in golf cart accidents. 10% is a good portion for just rollovers. After a friend of mine was injured in a golf cart accident, I started doing some more research into the liability of these incidents. The folks at Glover Law Firm actually handle golf cart accident cases. They know the specific things to look out for in order to make sure that their clients get a fair settlement for injuries incurred.
Aside from special, custom made golf carts, all golf carts only have brake on the rear axle. This design inhibits the vehicle’s stability, especially at higher speeds. When drivers travel downhill, their speed increases unexpectedly quick and drivers can lose their ability to control a golf cart. This is when rollovers most often occur. From our experiences driving on the road, we’re well aware that having front tires rolling while back tires skid in halt causes a great deal of instability. Although, this instability usually does not result in much damage when golf carts are on level ground and driving at a relatively low speed. The danger increases exponentially on downhill slopes. The rolling tires in front pieced together with locked rear tires causes a fishtailing effect. If you’ve ever experienced a fishtail, you know that it makes your heart drop. Most drivers think that their brakes have failed. Their natural reaction is to then press even harder down on the brake pedal. This increased pressure causes brakes to lock up and skidding then becomes completely out of control.
Every golf course is different, but many golf courses feature several, steep downward slopes on the cart path. These paths also commonly feature short hills, narrow driving paths, and sharp turns. These conditions create an environment that requires golf carts designed to handle the conditions they will be used on.
In the golf cart design and manufacturing industry, no strict regulations exist regarding braking mechanisms. Carts are not required to pass any downhill braking tests before going to market. Conversely, there are no enforcement standards as far as safety considerations within golf cart path designs. Enforceable golf cart design standards only test for dynamic braking on level ground. These tests do not reflect the true nature of golf cart use. This is likely a reason that we see so many golf cart accidents end in an ER trip every year. The American National Standards Institute golf cart standard claims that carts should never accelerate to a speed above 15 mph while moving on a level surface. However, the American National Standards Institute does not address the downward terrains commonly found on a golf course. these speeds are easily surpassed while moving on a downward slope.