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Golf cart injuries among children on the rise

'They were never designed' to be driven on public roadways, sheriff says
A golf cart in Delray Beach on Aug. 15, 2022.jpg
Posted at 12:57 PM, Aug 16, 2022
and last updated 2022-08-16 14:05:53-04

DELRAY BEACH, Fla. — It's no surprise that golf carts are popular in the Sunshine State, as there are more than 1,000 golf courses in Florida.

But the carts are not just being used on the green anymore.

"It's just the convenience of it," Delray Beach resident Rob Carey said.

Carey spent quite a bit of money to upgrade from a golf cart to a low-speed vehicle.

"I had one that wasn't quite as legal," Carey said.

The difference is that his new vehicle is legal to drive on roads with maximum speeds of 35 mph.

Delray Beach resident Rob Carey speaks to WPTV on Aug. 15, 2022
Delray Beach resident Rob Carey speaks to WPTV from his golf cart, which he uses to get around town, on Aug. 15, 2022, in Delray Beach, Fla.

"The problem that we're seeing with golf carts on public roadways is they were never designed for that," Martin County Sheriff William Synder said.

Thousands of people are injured in golf carts accidents every year.

"I would say in the last two years, our office has seen an intake in golf cart accidents," attorney Michael Pike said. "Unfortunately, one of our golf cart accidents involved a death."

RELATED: 1 dead in hit-and-run crash between golf cart, vehicle on Blue Heron Bridge

Pike said golf cart use has expanded to school drop-off and pick-up. People are using them to run errands and more children are driving them.

The American Academy of Pediatrics said injuries among kids are rising, and more than 6,500 are hurt every year.

"We had one fairly serious injury recently and it could have been a lot worse," Snyder said.

Martin County Sheriff William Synder speaks to Michelle Quesada while standing near golf cart on Aug. 15, 2022.jpg
Martin County Sheriff William Synder speaks to WPTV's Michelle Quesada about the dangers of more golf carts on public roadways during an interview outside the Martin County Sheriff's Office on Aug. 15, 2022, in Stuart, Fla.

Snyder said that in early August, a teenager was thrown from a golf cart while driving on a public roadway and crashing into car.

"There's some personal responsibility that must attach to this," Snyder said. "We have parents that are setting a terrible example for their children."

It's illegal for a golf cart to be driven on a public road unless it is retrofitted to meet safety standards. Brake lights, headlights and turn signals are all part of the safety equipment that makes a golf cart street legal. These golf carts also need a license plate, registration and a licensed driver.

"There's probably more people in illegal golf carts than we could ever effectively enforce against," Snyder said.

While it's a quick convenient drive, Carey agrees that extreme caution is always necessary.

"You really have to be very mindful of your surroundings," Carey said.

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