Golf Carts: More Dangerous Than They Look?
Arizona is a state of golf carts. This is largely due to the snowbirds who come to stay every winter, many of whom are retired. They want to go out and enjoy all that Arizona has to offer, but they also don’t want to drive a full-sized vehicle while doing so. Golf carts are the perfect answer for many people. There are 38,000 golf carts registered in the state of Arizona, and over 30,000 of those are in Maricopa County alone.
Those numbers only indicate the number of golf carts registered with the Department of Motor Vehicles, and not those on private property. Registered vehicles are allowed to venture out onto city roadways when certain conditions are met. However, the number of golf carts on Arizona’s roads has many residents questioning whether or not these vehicles are safe.
Recent Golf Cart Accidents in Maricopa County
In February 2018, Sandra Ayers McClintock was driving a golf cart that crashed into an SUV in Sun City West. Both vehicles were traveling less than 20 miles an hour, and sustained minor damage. Still, Sandra later died at the hospital. Sandra’s daughter does not believe the actual accident caused her mother’s death. She believes it was defective golf cart seatbelts that were too tight, and prevented her mother from exiting the vehicle. Sandra passed away as a result of blunt force trauma to the abdomen.
Just months after Sandra’s accident, an accident in Florence took the life of another golf cart driver. In July 2018, an 85-year-old man was driving a golf cart and failed to yield to a tractor-trailer. The truck driver swerved to avoid the golf cart, but was not successful and ended up on its side. The golf cart driver was killed instantly.
It’s clear there is some risk associated with golf carts being on the roads. In a collision, golf cart drivers and passengers have less protection than the people in the vehicles they share the road with. Golf carts also have high risk of rollover and occupant ejection. For this reason, Arizona and certain cities within the state have established rules for people who want to take their golf carts onto public roads.
Golf Cart Law in Arizona
It is legal to drive golf carts on roadways in Arizona, although there are some requirements that must be met.
Golf carts cannot be designed to travel at speeds higher than 25 miles an hour. They cannot contain more than four people, including the driver. And while golf carts may be driven on roadways, they cannot be driven on sidewalks. They cannot be driven on private property without the consent of the property owner.
Drivers must have a valid driver’s license to operate golf carts on roadways, and must carry liability insurance: a minimum of $10,000 in property damage insurance and $15,000 in bodily injury insurance.
In 2014, a new law was passed that affects golf carts in specific areas. This law states that a person in an age-restricted community in an unincorporated area of a county with less than 3 million people in population can drive a golf cart on the side of public roads. This differs from existing state law, which requires golf cart operators to travel in the middle of the lane, just as cars and trucks do. While the law applies to communities such as Sun City, it does apply not to Westbrook Village, which is not in an unincorporated area.
What to Do After a Golf Cart Accident
Golf carts can be particularly dangerous to cyclists and pedestrians who don’t have the protection of the cart’s frame. As has already been seen in Arizona, golf cart accidents can also be deadly for those driving them at the time of the accident.
The first thing anyone should do after an accident is to seek medical treatment. It is always a good idea to get checked out by a doctor, even if injuries are not apparent at the scene of the collision. Internal bleeding and other soft tissue injuries often don’t show up immediately. Next, take photos and document as much evidence from the scene as possible.
After medical treatment has been administered, individuals in golf cart accidents should speak to an Arizona golf cart attorney. If another person was responsible for the accident, that person may be required to pay compensation for medical bills and expenses related to the accident. For example, if a truck driver pulled out too suddenly in front of a golf cart, he may be to blame for the collision. If another golf cart driver was breaking the law and strikes a pedestrian, that could be considered negligence and indicate he was at fault for the accident. In the case of Sandra Ayers McClintock, who some believe died due to a defective seatbelt, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, which install the seatbelts, may be held liable. A good personal injury lawyer can investigate a case to determine liability.
Golf cart accidents certainly aren’t a rarity in Phoenix, its suburbs, and other areas of Arizona. When they happen, the losses afterwards can be immense. Anyone operating a golf cart must understand the rules of the road for these unique vehicles.
If you were injured in a crash involving a golf cart, The Husband and Wife Law Team has the know-how to investigate your accident and determine if you are eligible for compensation. Our Phoenix car accident lawyers have handled thousands of cases since 1996, and will be there every step of the way to support you and your family. Call us today for a free consultation at (602) 267-1280.