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Recent Golf Cart Incidents Highlight Dangers of Street Legal Carts

| Golf Carts, On the Street | March 1, 2012

Street Legal Golf Carts Pose Some Dangers

Driving golf carts on the street alongside other vehicles can be fun, but there are dangers.

Two recent incidents relating to driving golf carts on public roads have brought into focus how dangerous it can be to drive street legal golf carts. With the increase in the number of cities, towns and local municipalities allowing golf carts to be driven their streets there has been an upswing in the number of people taking advantage of this economical and environmentally friendly form of transportation. Unfortunately, there has been a corresponding increase in the number of accidents, some fatal, involving golf carts and NEVs.

New York Teen Charged in Fatal Golf Cart Crash

An 18-year-old western New York woman has been charged in connection with a crash that killed her friend as they rode a golf cart on a rural road at night last November. Cortney Greene of Byron was charged with criminally negligent homicide, vehicular manslaughter and driving while impaired for the Nov. 26 crash that killed Zachary Rusin of Holley.

Greene was driving the unlighted golf cart north on Route 237 at 12:07 a.m. Nov. 27 when a northbound car driven by Emmaleigh R. Odom, 19, of Pavilion, crested a hill and struck the rear of the golf cart. Greene and her passenger, Zachary J. Rusin, 18, of Holley, were thrown into the road and Rusin died the next day at a Rochester hospital.

Man Jailed for Golf Cart DUI

A 42-year-old Ashland, Nebraska man has been given 180 days in jail for drunken driving in a golf cart. The office of Saunders County Attorney Scott Tingelhoff says Richard Pointer also was sentenced to 180 days for resisting arrest.

Ashland police say an officer spotted Pointer driving the golf cart on city streets on May 21 last year. The officer says Pointer initially agreed to take a breath test, but then he began arguing with the officer and threatened him. The officer says Pointer also tried to leave the scene.

Bad Judgement

Both of these incidents were the result of impaired driving and/or not having the correct safety equipment fitted to the cart. When driving a cart on the road the same laws apply, including drink driving or drug driving, as to full size vehicles. A golf cart may be smaller than a car but drinking alcohol will still affect a persons ability to drive a cart properly, and the dangers will be amplified when sharing space with cars and trucks.

The fatal accident concerned a golf cart hit from behind at night that did not have any taillights which otherwise would have made it visible to the motorist if they were fitted. Both occupants were also thrown from the cart and safety belts may have prevented some injuries.

Safety Complacency

It could be the case that the golf cart is seen as safe by those who drive them due to the fact that they are slow accelerating, do not have a high top speed and are not completely enclosed. This could lead people to be less safety conscious and take more risks when driving on the street. Unfortunately, golf carts are often the smallest and most vulnerable vehicles on the roads and extra care should be taken when sharing road space with fast moving, heavier and larger cars and trucks.

Lets face it, you're always going to come off worse in a golf cart when involved in an accident with a car. Perhaps it's time that the irresponsible cart owners realized this, just as responsible motorcyclists have done for decades.

Some useful links on street legal golf cart safety:


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