Everyone knows what a golf cart is…or do they? These small, light vehicles used to be seen only on golf courses but are now popping up in lots of places, including neighborhoods and streets along with “regular” vehicles. And they’re starting to sport attention-grabbing variations—transporting more passengers and looking like mini-cars. So what’s behind the golf cart proliferation—and are there actually different kinds with important distinctions? The answer is an emphatic “yes,” and these distinctions are key for making sure they’re used appropriately and safely.
You don’t see the term “golf car” used much—but as ANSI/ILTVA Z130.1-2012: American National Standard Safety and Performance Specifications for Golf Cars points out, “carts” aren’t self-propelled and “cars” are (“car” and “cart” are used interchangeably here).
Interestingly, golf cars started out powered by electricity—only later did gas-powered ones appear. And it’s their ability to run cleanly and efficiently on electricity that’s putting more and more golf cars on the road as well as the golf course, as the Harvard Business Review observed.
ANSI/ILTVA Z130.2012 details performance and safety specifications for only those golf cars that will be moving people and equipment on golf courses. It’s important to note that an entirely different standard (ANSI/ILTVA Z135-2012) guides the use of Personal Transport Vehicles (PTVs)—the ones used off-course.
On-course golf car accidents result from cars speeding, losing control, and tipping or overturning (sometimes all three). At the June 2019 U.S. Open, a box fell onto the accelerator of a parked, overloaded golf cart that began moving and injured five.
So for golf cars, safety focuses heavily on vehicle speed control and stability—and preventing passengers from falling out. A study of golf-cart related injuries that looked at data from 1990 to 2006 showed that 70% of incidents occurred at sports facilities including golf courses, and 38% of them involved passengers falling from a golf car.
The study also showed that golf car–related injuries increased steadily each year—a hike of over 132% over the study’s course, although this figure doesn’t distinguish between on- and off-course incidents.
The ANSI/ILTVA Z130.2012 standard outlines how proper design, manufacture, maintenance, and operation are the links in the chain of accident-free golf car use. Design and manufacturing specifications call for hand holds and hip restraints for each passenger and focus on speed control, adequate braking, and lateral and longitudinal stability tested under specific conditions. It also addresses safety aspects of wiring, heat-generating components, chargers, batteries and fuel systems of both electric- and gas-powered golf cars.
For golf car operators, ANSI/ILTVA Z130.2012 widens the scope of safety to course terrain conditions—as they’re constructed and may change unexpectedly due to things like weather events—with a special eye on slopes, curves, slippery or uneven conditions, and areas of car-pedestrian interaction. These terrain-related specifications are complemented and expanded upon by the ILTVA Golf Course Safety Guidelines and Golf Car Storage Facility Safety Guidelines.
Contributing Author: Marla Keene, Staff Writer, AXControl.com
Technology writer Marla Keene works for AXControl.com. In her free time, Marla hikes with her dog Otis or spends time searching for old cameras to add to her ever-growing collection.