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Golf-Cart Head Injuries On The Rise | Volusia County Medical Malpractice Attorney

Golf-Cart Head Injuries On The Rise

A new study shows more than two-thirds of the patients seeking treatment for golf-cart injuries at the level 1 trauma center at Georgia Health Sciences University suffered significant head injuries.

And alcohol was a factor in approximately 59 percent of the injuries for people over 16.

Researchers identified 68 people treated for golf cart-related injuries from 2000 to 2009 at this particular trauma center in Augusta, Ga. The significant head injuries were defined as loss of consciousness, hemorrhage or skull fracture. About 60 percent of the injuries occurred in children age 9 years on average. Most state laws have no minimum age for driving golf carts.

“The most startling concerns were the large number of drivers who drank enough alcohol to impair judgment and their assertiveness when traveling on roads that resulted in collisions with motor vehicles,” said study leader Dr. Brian McKinnon, an assistant professor of otology and neurotology at the university, in a news release. “Golf carts weren’t intended for those purposes.”

The study, published in the June issue of Otolaryngology – Head and Neck Surgery, noted that golf carts are increasingly used in retirement communities, on college campuses and at sporting events. But riders and passengers rarely wear helmets or other protective gear and, unlike motor vehicles, golf carts typically lack doors and safety features such as seat belts, mirrors and lights. Because they are less stable than cars, sudden rollovers or ejections are more likely.

Twenty-six patients (about 38 percent) sustained injuries when they were ejected from the golf cart. Rollovers caused a similar number of injuries, the study found. Another 13 injuries came from collisions with a motor vehicle, and three injuries resulted from hitting a stationary object.

The average hospital stay for those injured was 4.5 days, with the average intensive care unit stay being 2.8 days. Some 36.8 percent were admitted to the ICU.

Major issues emerging from the study include vehicle design safety, injury prevention and driver competence, especially when traveling to swimming pools, tennis courts or community destinations off the golf course.

“Golf carts are not the most stable vehicles. However, some things can be done to mechanically improve them such as installing front wheel brakes and changing the position of the steering wheel for better balance,” said McKinnon. “Seat belts and safety helmets can also be used.”

For more on traffic safety issues, see the library of articles by Daytona Beach car accident attorney.

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