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Golf Carts on Campus

Joanne Dunlap
January 2024
Gold Cart Masthead
Key practices to prevent golf cart crashes

The Consumer Product Safety Commission estimates golf cart accidents cause more than 13,000 emergency room visits each year. And a United Educators (UE) claims review found that from 2012 through 2016, golf cart accidents — often due to reckless, negligent, or distracted driving — on college and university campuses resulted in over $1.6 million in losses.

To avoid costly claims, implement these key practices at your college or university.

Implement Policies Specific to Golf Carts

Several institutions with claims related 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 drivers understand the particular risks and idiosyncrasies of operating the cart.

When developing policies specific to golf cart use:

  • Set minimum driver qualifications. Only allow 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. Deny golf cart access if the check shows someone has driven under the influence, committed a felony with a vehicle, or left an accident scene.
  • Include state and local regulations on usage. Consult with legal counsel to identify local regulations governing golf cart usage. Incorporate legal requirements into the policy.
  • Require drivers to complete a golf cart driving test that includes written and practical components.

Develop Operating Rules

Post operating rules in a visible spot in each golf cart. Rules should:

  • Prohibit personal use of carts. Provide exceptions to accommodate people with limited mobility.
  • List 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 thunderstorms, and limit drivable terrain to paved highways and parking areas.
  • Require removal of keys from unattended carts. This prevents unauthorized use.
  • Require drivers to review a safety checklist before use. For an example, see Southern Methodist University’s inspection checklist.

Provide Driver Training

Training should cover your institution’s accident reporting guidelines, operating rules, and safety tips. The American Journal of Preventive Medicine suggests incorporating these 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. Always keep arms and legs in the cart.
  • Sit back in the seat. Know the location of handgrips.
  • Prohibit children younger than six from riding in the cart.

Conduct Routine Safety Inspections

Policies should list your institution’s inspection requirements, including:

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

By implementing these risk management practices, your institution can protect golf cart operators, passengers, pedestrians, and facilities where golf carts are used.


More From UE

Checklist: Safety in Student and Employee Transportation

Additional Resources

Trinity University: Golf Cart Safety Policy

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

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