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    May 2014

    Golf Carts on Campus

    Golf carts are commonly used by educational institutions as utility vehicles and to assist individuals with limited mobility. Although considered safe because 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. UE claims show that serious injury, such as broken bones or concussion, can occur when individuals are hit by or thrown from golf carts. UE recommends the following best practices to limit the potential for injuries.

    Establish Minimum Driver Qualifications

    • Allow only authorized employees, contractors, or students to use carts
    • Require drivers to be at least 16 years old and have a valid driver’s license
    • Consider conducting a motor vehicle records check on each driver

    Develop Operating Rules

    These rules should be posted and visible inside each golf cart. UE suggests the following:

    • Prohibit personal use of carts except when provided as an accommodation to a person with limited mobility
    • List sections of campus where carts are allowed and state whether carts are permitted on city roads
    • Mandate that pedestrians have the right of way on sidewalks
    • Establish speed limits and prohibit employees from modifying carts for increased speed
    • Regulate usage at night, during severe weather (including thunderstorms), and over rough terrain
    • Require removal of keys from unattended carts to prevent unauthorized use

    Provide Driver Training

    Some institutions use training videos followed by a written test, but there are other effective methods. Training should cover the institution’s accident reporting guidelines, operating rules, and safety tips. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests the following safety tips:

    • Use safety belts when available
    • Brake slowly, especially on downhill slopes
    • Avoid sharp turns at high speeds, U-turns, and when backing up
    • Put both feet firmly on the floor and keep arms and legs inside the cart at all times
    • Occupants should sit back in the seat and know the location of handgrips
    • Children younger than 6 may be too young to ride unrestrained in golf carts

    Institutions should conduct routine inspections of golf carts and consider creating a safety checklist for each use. In addition, research state and local regulations on golf cart usage. Consult with legal counsel when reviewing regulations and incorporating requirements into operating rules, safety tips, and training programs.

    UE Resources

    College-Owned Vehicles: Claims Lessons for Reducing Driver Error
    Safety in Student Transportation: A Higher Ed Resource Guide

    University of South Florida: USF Cart Safety Training Program
    Trinity University: Golf Cart Policy 


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