Over the weekend, Alyssa Bargsley, a student at Hays High School (my alma mater), was killed in a tragic golf cart wreck. Apparently, Ms. Bargsley was standing on the back of the golf cart while the driver, another Hays High School student, was driving. The driver hit a bump, tossing Ms. Bargsley off the cart and causing her to hit her head on the pavement.
Sadly, Ms. Bargsley isn’t alone. A 2008 study by the University of Alabama-Birmingham Center for Injury Sciences found that around 1,000 Americans per month were experiencing significant injuries (enough to warrant a trip to the hospital) from golf cart accidents. About half of these injuries were found to occur on golf courses, but about half occurred on streets or other public property (as was the case with Ms. Bargsley’s wreck).
Having grown up playing golf, I can certainly understand how these accidents occur, particularly when teenagers are involved. But it’s really important to remember that these are vehicles that travel at decent speeds, and use of golf carts can lead to serious injuries.
The Texas Department of Insurance has a Golf Cart Safety FactSheet that has a number of safety tips for the operation of golf carts. Among the tips:
- Drivers and passengers must remain seated while the vehicle is moving.
- Never exceed the number of available seats for the number of passengers.
- A golf cart should be operated at a speed equivalent to a well-paced walk, but no faster than 15 mph.
- All passengers should keep hands, arms, legs and feet within the confines of the golf cart at all times when the cart is in motion.
- All golf carts should have seat belts, and the operator and all passengers should be restrained.
- Reduce speed when approaching pedestrians.
- When driving, maintain adequate distance between vehicles.
This is an unspeakable tragedy, but it would be even worse if others failed to learn from it. The next time you or your kids are on a golf cart, please remind them of these tips to help protect all involved.