Danger on the course? 6,500 children injured each year in golf cart accidents

ITASCA, Ill. — Childhood injuries during athletics are usually something many parents believe happens while their kids play contact sports like football. However, a new study finds golf may be deceptively dangerous. Researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia report that over 6,500 children suffer various injuries while riding in golf carts each year. Even worse, children younger than 12 years-old account for over half of those accidents.

Over the course of a nearly 10-year study, the research team recorded 63,501 golf cart-related injuries to children and adolescents. Golf cart injuries steadily increased year over year.

“I think it’s important that we raise awareness of the severity and types of injuries that golf carts pose to children including pre-adolescents, so that greater prevention measures can be instituted in the future,” says Dr. Theodore J. Ganley, director of CHOP’s Sports Medicine and Performance Center and Chair of the AAP Section on Orthopedics, in a media release.

Too young to drive?

Motorized golf carts have become more popular and easily attainable for recreational use at a variety of events, study authors explain. Individual state regulations vary, but many states allow kids as young as 14 to drive golf carts with minimal to no supervision. Of course, a child doesn’t have to be driving to be at risk. Children sitting in passenger seats are at risk of being thrown from the vehicle or injured in the event of the golf cart rolling over.

The study also finds that males tend to suffer golf cart related injuries more often than females. Additionally, the most common type of injuries were largely superficial in nature. Meanwhile, much more serious injuries like fractures and dislocations were the second most common. Most injuries were located in the head and neck, and the bulk of the incidents took place at either a school or a sporting event. While many injuries weren’t severe in nature, the majority of children did end up visiting a hospital or medical facility for treatment after these accidents.

Researchers presented their findings at the 2021 American Academy of Pediatrics National Conference & Exhibition.

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