Golf carts are being used for applications beyond the golf course. They are being used as transportation vehicles in communities, campuses, large warehouses, parks, and airports. The carts are also used for utility purposes such as moving materials and equipment. In addition, devices such as Segways, scooters, 4-wheelers, and all-terrain vehicles (ATV) are also being used for a variety of workplace applications.
Many of the users of these vehicles have not had any formal training in their use and vehicles such as golf carts will perform very differently compared to an automobile. The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) estimates a five-year average (2009–2013) of nearly 15,000 golf cart related injuries per year that required an emergency room visit. From 2004–2014, OSHA's website shows 32 fatal injuries that occurred involving golf carts. Most golf carts are not equipped with basic safety features such as seat belts and serious injuries can occur from a rollover or ejection type incident.
In addition to the safety features, the use of carts and small utility vehicles for transportation has created challenges for regulating and licensing carts and their operators. The requirements vary from state to state and in some cases from community to community. There are a wide variety of state level regulations ranging from 3 states that have no laws addressing these vehicles to 2 states that allow Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs) on roads with speed limits up to 45 mph.
With the evolving use of these vehicles, it is important to understand the risks and requirements of operating them safely. A good understanding of the hazards, the regulations, and the basic controls can help form a foundation of the golf cart utility cart risk management program. All of these efforts can help protect the operator, passengers, pedestrians, and the facilities where these vehicles are used.