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    Golf Carts on Campus


    Educational institutions use golf carts to transport students and visitors, patrol campus grounds, and perform maintenance activities. But although they are small and slow, golf carts can be dangerous. In fact, the Consumer Products Safety Commission estimates that golf cart accidents cause more than 13,000 emergency room visits each year.

    A United Educators (UE) claims review found that between 2012 to 2016, golf cart accidents on campuses resulted in over $1.6 million in losses. Most accidents resulted from reckless, negligent, or distracted driving. Implementing a few key practices can help your institution avoid costly claims.

    Implement Golf Cart Policies

    Several institutions with claims relating to golf carts required only general driver training programs before driving any vehicle in the institution’s fleet. Authorized drivers should meet requirements specific to golf carts, such as a golf cart driver’s test, to ensure the driver understands the particular risks and idiosyncrasies of operating a golf cart. UE recommends developing policies specific to golf cart use. Policies should:

    • Set minimum driver qualifications. Allow only authorized employees, contractors, or students to use carts. All drivers should have a valid driver’s license. Conduct motor vehicle records (MVR) checks through an annual pull of each driver or random sample of frequent drivers and deny golf cart access if the MVR check shows someone has driven under the influence, committed a felony with a vehicle, or left the scene of an accident.
    • Include state and local regulations on usage. Consult with legal counsel to identify local regulations governing golf cart usage, and incorporate legal requirements into the policy.
    • Require a driver’s test. Require drivers to complete a golf cart driving test that includes both written and practical components.

    Develop Operating Rules

    UE suggests posting the following rules in a visible spot in each golf cart:

    • Prohibit personal use of carts except when provided as an accommodation to a person with limited mobility.
    • List the authorized routes on campus where carts are allowed. State whether carts are permitted on city roads.
    • Mandate that pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks.
    • Establish speed limits. Prohibit employees from modifying carts for increased speed.
    • Establish rules for usage at night, during severe weather (including thunderstorms), and over rough terrain. For example, some institutions restrict night use without headlights and brake lights, prohibit all golf cart driving during a thunderstorm, and limit drivable terrain to paved highways and parking areas.
    • Require removal of keys from unattended carts to prevent unauthorized use.
    • Require drivers to review a safety checklist before use. For an example, see the Southern Methodist University inspection checklist.

    Provide Driver Training

    Training should cover the institution’s accident reporting guidelines, operating rules, and safety tips. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests incorporating the following safety guidelines into your training program:

    • Use safety belts when available.
    • Brake slowly, especially on downhill slopes.
    • Avoid sharp turns.
    • Put both feet firmly on the floor and keep arms and legs inside the cart at all times.
    • Sit back in the seat and know the location of handgrips.
    • Prohibit children younger than six years old from riding in a golf cart.

    Conduct Routine Safety Inspections

    List your institution’s inspection requirements in the golf cart policy. Inspection requirements should include:

    • A timeline for periodic inspections
    • Any state inspection requirements
    • Documentation procedures for all inspections and maintenance
    • A list of the people or departments responsible for conducting inspections and maintenance

    By implementing these suggested risk management practices, institutions can help protect golf cart operators, passengers, pedestrians, and the facilities where golf carts are used.

    UE Resources

    College-Owned Vehicles: Claims Lessons for Reducing Driver Error

    Safety in Student Transportation: A Higher Ed Resource Guide

    Additional Resources

    Trinity University Golf Cart Safety Policy

    Oregon State University Golf Cart/Utility Vehicle Policy

    University of California-Irvine Motorized Cart Program

    University of South Carolina-Beaufort Golf Cart & Utility Vehicle Safety Program