Golf carts are typically used on golf courses and are considered low-speed, off-highway vehicles in California. The use of a golf cart and other off-highway vehicles usually extends past the golf course. However, there are some restrictions on where you can use the carts and what they are intended for. Riding or driving a golf cart can become very dangerous when operated incorrectly. In a study about the increasing use of golf carts and the dangers to children driving these vehicles, it was found that more than a hundred cases of children ages 17 and under suffered traumatic injuries following a golf cart accident.

It is essential to understand off-highway vehicle laws in California and why golf carts may not be appropriate for children to drive and operate independently. At The Law Offices of JG Winter, our attorney knows and understands the difficulties that traumatic injuries may bring, especially in the case of TBI accidents. Continue reading to discover more about California’s golf cart laws and why children should not be permitted to operate a golf cart alone.

Off-Highway Vehicle Laws in California

Any motor vehicle that is operated off the highway, such as a golf cart, may be used on the road with low speed. When golf carts are operated on public and open lands, where permitted, they must be registered and have an OHV registration sticker issued by the DMV. Golf carts are intended to be operated at no more than a 15 mph speed limit. Driving a golf cart is done at a low speed because of the typical winding turns and unlevel ground there may be on the golf course. When driving a cart, it is crucial to follow safety precautions and recommendations based on the intended use. If a golf cart tips over when making a sharp turn, or gets into an auto accident on low-speed streets, there is risk of serious injury for all passengers.

Is It Against the Law to Allow a Child to Drive a Golf Cart?

The legal age limit to operate a golf cart in California is 13 years old. To operate a golf cart, an individual must use an appropriately sized vehicle, where they show no difficulty in safely reaching the controls and pedals. When parents permit their child under 13 years of age to operate an inappropriately-sized OHV, they may receive a citation. It is also hazardous for children to drive an OHV vehicle such as a golf cart, because they may suffer severe and traumatic injury in an accident.

Why Children Should Not Drive Golf Carts

Golf carts may appear harmless and easy to use since they are low-speed vehicles. However, a golf cart accident can occur in many ways and can lead to severe injuries, especially for children involved. When in use, golf carts must not carry more than two people, including the driver. Unfortunately, a consumer report from 2017 reported that children and seniors represent nearly 60 percent of all golf cart accident victims. 

Reasons a golf cart accident may occur include:

  • Sharp turns
  • Distracted driving
  • Too much weight in the cart
  • Accidents or collisions at a crosswalk
  • Golf course collisions
  • Lack of experience
  • Night driving and low visibility
  • Other causes and types of accident

Motorized vehicles may attract young children and teens because of their apparent ease of use. Although, using motorized carts or cars that do not require seat belts and protective gear can result in traumatic injuries. Operating golf carts does not require helmets or seat belts, and there are limitations to how many people can ride a golf cart at a time. For children, bodily injury may occur because of the lack of safety gear and the high chance of being ejected from the cart in a collision or accident.

Common Golf Cart Accident Injuries

Golf carts that are made to travel on roadways may reach speeds up to 25 mph. On a golf-course, carts are intended for use of to 15 mph, but may easily increase speed because of sharp turns and an unleveled course. Considering the weight, speed, small wheels, and other factors of golf cart use, accidents can lead to severe injuries, especially for inexperienced children and small kids that cannot safely reach the controls or pedals.

Golf cart accident injuries may include:

  • Soft tissue injuries
  • Bone fractures and breaks
  • Laceration
  • Head and spinal cord injury
  • Traumatic brain injury
  • Concussions
  • Internal organ injury
  • Paralysis and amputations
  • Other types of injuries and catastrophic damage

Increased use of golf carts among children has been seen in recent years. Many of the injuries they have suffered range from superficial to traumatic damage to the brain. The impact of these injuries doesn’t end in the hospital. Many childhood traumatic brain injury victims find long-term effects that reach adulthood. It is important for parents to be cautious and aware of local laws and regulations for golf cart use and how to best protect their children if they are riding as a passenger.

Consult With a Sacramento TBI Attorney After a Golf Cart Accident

Many people believe that golf carts are smaller and safer cars since they ride at low speeds. However, driving golf carts can become very dangerous because of the lack of safety gear and other factors. Children in recent years who have suffered golf cart accident injuries endured serious brain or head injuries.

At The Law Offices of JG Winter, we understand the frightening and stressful events that lead to unfortunate accidents. In Sacramento, the permitted use of golf carts allows many people to enjoy a day of golf or local transportation within a community. When accidents occur, your life or an injured child’s life may change drastically. To consult with our Sacramento personal injury attorney and understand the next steps following a golf cart accident, you can fill out a contact form or give us a call at (844) 517-0586.