A new study led by researchers in the Centre for Injury Research and Policy of The Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital found that the number of golf cart-related injuries soared to 132 percent during the 17-year study period. There were almost 148,000 golf cart-related injuries between 1990 and 2006, ranging from an estimated 5,770 cases in 1990 to approximately 13,411 cases in 2006.
Despite golf course, golf carts are now regularly being used at sporting events, hospitals, airports, national parks, college campuses, business parks and military bases.
The study also found that more than 70 percent of golf cart-related injuries took place at sports or recreational facilities and the individuals injured in carts on the street had an increased risk of concussions and were more likely to require hospitalization than individuals injured in other locations.
Also more than 30 percent of golf cart-related injuries involved children under the age of 16.
"Children are even more likely than adults to fall from the golf cart, and these falls are associated with higher rates of head and neck injuries and hospitalizations. Greater efforts are needed to prevent these injuries," said Dr Gary Smith, study co-author, director of the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital, and an associate professor of pediatrics at The Ohio State University College of Medicine.
"Because golf carts are not designed for children and the majority offer no child safety features, we recommend that children under the age of 6 years not be transported in golf carts and that drivers be at least 16 years old to operate the vehicle," said Tracy Mehan, study co-author, MA, CPST, research associate in the Centre for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children's.
Mehan suggests that more effective safety features would reduce the overall number of golf cart-related injuries.
"Following a few safety precautions, such as driving at a reasonable speed, wearing seat belts when they are available, braking slowly and considering the terrain and weather conditions can reduce the potential for injuries," she added.
The study is published in the July issue of the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (available online).