Owning a golf cart is one of life's greatest pleasures. But like anything that's fun, there is a level of safety that needs to be recognized. Here, we have compiled our top golf cart safety tips, (a golf cart safety checklist, so to speak) not just for owning and working on your golf cart (i.e. Tuning Up Your Golf Cart, changing your golf cart tires, installing Golf Cart Parts, etc.) but for driving your golf cart.
Golf Cart Safety Procedures
Golf Cart Inspection and Maintenance
First and foremost AND the most important safety tip is, keeping your golf cart well maintained and in tip-top shape. Inspecting your golf cart often helps to cut down on unwanted surprises later on down the line and helps to keep you safe as you enjoy endless rounds of golf and cruising with friends. Because many golf carts are used for activities other than golf as well (i.e. Around college campuses, hospitals, churches, schools, etc), golf cart safety in the workplace is especially important.
Following a daily visual inspection for things like unusual noises, fluids leaking from the cart, etc., are the "meat and potatoes" of the golf cart. These parts should be checked frequently and kept well maintained:
- Golf Cart Charger
- Turn Signals
- Seat Belt
- Windshield Wipers
And don't forget to check and make sure that the Golf Cart Safety Grab Bar is secured nice and tight for rear seat riders.
Note: Proper battery maintenance is very important. Older batteries have been known to explode due to overcharging. If you have wet cell batteries, keeping your batteries water levels up to par is also super important as your batteries can burn up if the water becomes depleted and dried out.
Leaving Your Keys In A Golf Cart Unattended
More common that you think, golf carts can get stolen. More often than not, a cart can come up stolen if the keys are left in the cart. Leaving your Golf Cart Keys in your cart while it's unattended is never a good idea. The obvious reasons as stated above, is that the cart can easily be stolen. Most insurance companies also will not cover theft or damage if you leave your keys in your golf-cart. Best to always keep your keys in hand or in a safe place while the cart is unattended.
Making sure that you have your parking brake on is essential to the safety of your cart. Nobody wants to be chasing after a golf cart rolling down a hill! Many people think you only need to use your parking brake (also called the emergency brake) when parking on a hill.This is actually incorrect. Whether the terrain is hilly or flat, you should use your golf cart parking brake every time you park.
The #1 safety tip overall is to never drive recklessly. Driving courteously and obeying all traffic laws, whether it be golf cart trail/golf cart-specific road laws and rules OR if you drive your golf cart on the main roads, right alongside full-size vehicles. Adhering to all traffic laws is key. This keeps you and all other drivers safe.
While operating your golf cart, just as you would in a full size car, ALWAYS be attentive and aware of your surroundings. "Keep Your Eyes On The Road" rings true for golf cart owners and drivers just as it does for automobile drivers. Avoiding texting and talking on your cell phone (if you must, use that handy talk to text feature or hands-free mode), reaching for objects, reading, eating, applying makeup, etc., are all things that can be super distracting and cause accidents (yes, accidents DO happen from time to time, even in a slower moving golf cart).
You should never allow anyone to ride in your golf cart while standing in the vehicle or on the back platform/step-plate. Waiting until all passengers are safely seated inside the golf-cart before setting it in motion is best to avoid having anyone fall off. Nobody wants to see their great Aunt Marge topple off the side and onto the green!
Driving In Inclement Weather
Although a golf cart may shield you from the rain, it may not protect you from other weather conditions. If Mother Nature is in a bad mood, you should always take precautions before taking your golf cart out. For example: If your golf cart isn't equipped with all-terrain tires, you probably don't want to be cruising around in the snow. You run the risk of getting stuck or slipping off the trail/road if you hit ice. Also, a golf cart, because it's more open, may not be able to protect you from floods caused by heavy rains OR lightening strikes. Always be cautious and check the weather before heading out.
Keeping All Body Parts In The Golf Cart
You have probably heard the phrase "Please keep your hands, arms and legs inside the vehicle at all times" while waiting to take off on your favorite roller coaster. While a golf cart isn't a roller coaster, that phrase rings true for a SMV (Slow Moving Vehicle) also! Unless you are using your arm to signal a turn, all hands, arms, legs and feet should remain inside the golf cart while the golf cart is in motion. You run the risk of someones arm, hand, leg or foot getting caught on something you are passing and yanking the rider out of the cart, among other dangers.
Driving Under The Influence
Likely a given, but one that should always be at the top of any golf cart owners list. You should never operate or allow anyone else to operate your golf cart while intoxicated or under the influence of any drug or narcotic. This goes for run of the mill painkillers that you might be taking for a recent surgery or health condition. If you have something in your system that you would not or should not drive a full size automobile with, then you should not be driving your golf cart. Most don't know this but, you can be charged with DUI and/or be ticketed while driving your golf cart under the influence. Always be safe, rather than be sorry!
Operating From The Drivers Side Only
This may sound silly and like something that some golf cart owners don't need to be told but, you should never ever operate your golf cart from the passengers side. Believe it or not, there have been some pretty serious golf cart accidents involving folks who tried hopping in the passengers seat and only intending to move the golf cart forward just a bit and boom, accident! Only operate your golf from the drivers side.
Overweight Golf Cart
By overweight golf cart, we don't mean that your cart needs to go on a diet and cut back on the doughnuts. But rather, you should only be carrying the number of passengers for which there are seats and for the amount of weight that your golf cart is rated for. If your golf cart is rated for 4 riders, stuffing 8 riders can overload the cart.This goes for hauling as well. You should never overload your golf cart with excessive weight from hauling or riders. It can wear on your springs, brakes and over-all suspension. You also run the risk of popping a tire or several.
Golf carts should be equipped with Golf Cart Seat Belts for the driver and all passengers. Anytime the vehicle is in use, the driver and all occupants should utilize the available seat-belts. If driving on a an actual street, you can also get ticketed for not wearing a seat belt. Nobody wants that! A golf cart may be a slower moving vehicle, but it's a vehicle nonetheless and wearing a seatbelt is very important. It's especially important when you have elderly folks or children riding with you. You don't want anyone slipping out if you take a sharper turn or stop fast. Click it or slip it!
Yielding to pedestrians, other golf carts and automobiles is super important. Golf carts should always, always yield to all pedestrians and other vehicular traffic (i.e. full size cars/trucks/SUVS) in ALL cases. Being courteous to passersby and other vehicles, including other golf carts, not only keeps others safe, but keeps you safe as well.
Checking Bling Spots
If you travel on the road and live in an area where there are golf cart specific lanes, it is really important to make sure to check your blind spot diligently. This is especially important when making left hand turns. When making a left hand turn, you should always yield to the thru traffic lane and merge into that lane before turning left. You should never make a left hand turn across traffic from the golf cart lane. Anytime you are merging, turning, backing up, etc. you should always be checking your blind spot. Golf Cart Mirrors help a great deal with checking your surroundings and if you don't have any mirrors currently, or have been thinking about upgrading to a mirror or set of mirrors that gives you higher visibility, we say, go for it!
Sharp Turns / Erratic Movements
Sharp turns at excessive speeds, and any erratic movements such as sudden starts, sudden stops and fast turns can be very dangerous for you and your passengers. It is always best to try to avoid sharp turn and rather drive straight up and down slopes to reduce the risk of ejections or rollovers. However, sometimes sharp turns are unavoidable and may present themselves to you while out cruising around. No worries! As long as you slow down and do not take these sharp turns at maximum speed, you will be just fine.
Getting Equipped For Street Legal Driving
If you plan on driving on the street among full size cars, you should always make certain that your golf cart is equipped with the proper equipment. Things such as:
- Street Legal Light Kits (These include the necessary turn signals, horn, brake lights, etc)
- Seat Belts
What's required for street legal golf cart riding varies by state, so definitely check with your local municipality for a list of parts that are required for street driving before heading out. We have an excellent resource available that talks specifically and in depth about How To Make Your Golf Cart Street Legal. We recommend taking a look there for more info on this topic.
Above all, make sure to have fun and stay safe anytime you are working on, riding on or driving yours or someone else's golf cart.