Researchers at The University of Alabama at Birmingham say a thousand people are hurt on golf carts each month. And with several golf communities in our area, golf carts are not uncommon.
There are many pluses to living in a scenic golf community- including the ability to drive carts from place to place. Communities such as Southwood have gone through many rigors to have that privilege.
"People having to have driver's licenses to drive the carts, them having to be street legal. I think that's the right way to go." said Steve Cherry, a resident of Southwood.
Florida state statutes say that a golf cart can not be operated on public streets by anyone under the age of 14, while some communities have even stricter rules, saying drivers must have a driver's license. A report from UAB researchers says many people are hurt every month and males ages 10 to 19, as well as people over 80, have the greatest chance of being injured.
Tallahassee resident, Brigitte Pankey says her 13 year old niece, Mercedez, was thrown out of a golf cart while riding with her friend who was also 13. "She hit her head and her brain jarred back and forth causing a bleed and she had to be life flighted to a children's hospital where she had an emergency craniotomy and just really a fight to save her life." said Pankey. Mercedez was in a coma, but she is now recovering well.
A separate UAB study shows these kinds of accidents have increased by 130 percent from 1990 to 2006. So while these golf green chariots may be fun, they are not unlike cars when comes to safety behind the wheel.
Reports say golf carts are becoming increasingly popular in some communities due to rising gas prices. And most injuries reported are caused by falling or jumping out of the vehicle.