Golf carts driven on roadways are a common sight in Sun City and other West Valley retirement communities. Why are they used? For many retirees, they are a more fuel efficient and convenient alternative to cars and trucks. Golf carts are ideal for making short trips around town and have become a popular mode of transportation. In Sun City, half of the 27,500 households use golf carts.
Golf carts’ ease of use, however, sometimes comes at a price to personal safety. They are defined under Arizona law as motor vehicles. That means other drivers must respect your right to responsibly drive a golf cart on public roads.
However, golf carts are not as safe as the automobiles they share the road with. They do not offer the same kind of safety features as a car. Cart users are especially prone to injury when carts are hit by much heavier cars or SUVs. With the rise in golf cart popularity there has been a surge in serious injuries, particularly among older adults.
If you were involved in an Arizona golf cart accident, it is time to discuss what happened with a lawyer who has experience handling golf cart wrecks.
Our Sun City Golf Cart Accident Law Firm Can Help
The Sun City, Arizona law firm of Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC has your best interests in mind. During a free consultation we will explain your legal rights and how we can help you recover money for medical bills and other losses.
When you hire Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC, you get a firm that is up to date on the latest cases and legal technology. You can also rest assured knowing that our personalized approach will put you at ease.
We believe in a traditional approach to client service. Our clients’ interests always come first. We have a team of attorneys with legal knowledge in multiple practice areas. Our team strives to match the personality of each client with a suitable attorney.
Serious Injuries from Golf Cart Crashes
Two studies published in 2008 showed the potential perils of driving a golf cart. One study, appearing in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery, found that over a 3 year period, an estimated 48,255 golf cart related injuries occurred in the United States. The other study, published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine (AJPM), found 147,696 golf cart related injuries over a 16 year period. Both studies used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS).
The types of injuries found to be associated most often with golf cart injuries were:
- Soft tissue damage (i.e., contusions, abrasions)
- Intracranial injuries (including concussions, subdural hematomas, and hemorrhage)
While the majority of reported injury cases occurred at sports fields such as golf courses, 15% occurred on streets or public property. The two age groups with the highest injury rates were 10 to 19 year olds and those aged 80+.
A separate NEISS data analysis by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) found that 52% of golf cart injuries over a 10 year period were due to occupants falling from a moving cart. Among this group of injury victims, 35% sustained head injuries. The NHTSA study showed a steady increase in the number of head injuries that occurred each year. According to the AJPM study, golf cart injuries increased by more than 130% over the study period.
Arizona Golf Cart Laws
Because Arizona law treats golf carts as motor vehicles, operators must:
- Register their golf cart with Arizona DMV;
- Carry liability insurance on golf carts that meets minimum state liability insurance requirements ($10,000 in property damage and $15,000/$30,000 in bodily injury);
- Equip their golf cart with working headlights, brake lights, and a horn. Golf carts, unlike other motor vehicles, need not have a windshield.
Golf carts operators do face some restrictions. Notably, golf carts in Arizona must obey a 25 mph speed limit. They are banned from roads with a speed limit of 35 mph or higher.
Most major traffic laws that apply to passenger vehicles also apply to golf carts. For example, golf cart drivers must come to a full stop at stop signs and red lights.
House Bill 2027 Signed Into Law
A new golf cart use law passed in April 2014 made significant changes to the operation of golf carts in Sun City, Sun City West, and Sun Lakes. In these age restricted communities, it is now legal to drive golf carts on street shoulders. The law also makes it legal for drivers to overtake and pass golf carts that are in the same lane. Additionally, the law says that golf carts must yield right of way to a vehicle that is traveling in the same direction and intending to make a right turn.
Legal Help for Golf Cart Accident Victims
Sharing the road with other motor vehicles means facing the hazards that all motor vehicles face, including hazardous road conditions, drunk drivers, drivers who are distracted, and aggressive drivers. Nonresidents of Sun City, furthermore, may have less patience with golf cart drivers than do residents and exhibit road rage towards slower moving carts.
This, of course, is no excuse for reckless driving. Other drivers must respect your roadway rights. Failure to do so, as statistics show, can result in golf cart crashes which may produce head injuries and other serious, costly injuries.
Find the support you need after a golf cart accident at Mushkatel, Robbins & Becker, PLLC. We have helped Sun City vehicle accident victims before and understand the unique legal considerations of these cases. During a free consultation we will demonstrate our commitment to one on one attention meant to ease your mind and get you back on your feet. To get started, call a Sun City golf cart accident lawyer at (480) 467-3434 or contact us online.
Sources/For More Information:
- Sunland Springs Village Homeowners Association: Arizona Driving Laws for Golf Carts
- Arizona State Legislature: Chapter 23—House Bill 2027
- National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: Vehicle Performance Characteristics and Seat Belt Effectiveness in Low Speed Vehicles and Golf Cars
- American Journal of Preventive Medicine: Golf Cart Related Injuries in the U.S.
- The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery: Incidence of Golf Cart Related Injury in the United States
- azcentral.com: Gov. Brewer signs golf cart bill into law