A study that takes a hard look at golf cart crashes in The Villages has found that seat belts could save lives in Florida’s Friendliest Hometown.
Community Development District 1 Supervisor Bill Jenness has asked that the comprehensive study examining golf cart crashes be put on the board’s agenda for its meeting set for 8 a.m. Friday at Savannah Center.
The study by the Taylor & Francis Group compiled information about golf cart crashes in The Villages between 2011 and 2019. During the observation period, a total of 875 golf cart-related accidents occurred, representing an average of 136 crashes, 65 hospitalizations and nine dead or disabled annually. Of all crashes, 48 percent resulted in hospitalization, severe trauma or death. Of these, ejection occurred in 27 percent, hospitalization in 55 percent and death or disability in 15 percent of crashes.
“Virtually all death and disability occurred within the setting of golf carts used on streets or road pathways. Death and disability particularly due to ejection during golf cart crashes, occur at an alarming rate when golf carts are used for local transportation,” the study’s authors wrote.
The study found that ejection is the “most preventable” cause of golf cart injuries and that seat belts are the logical way to prevent ejections.
However, not everyone is onboard with seat belts.
The National Golf Car Manufacturers Association has stated that, “seat belts are more of a safety detriment to the occupant than beneficial.” It is the association’s position that a golf cart without seat belts affords the ability to “jump from a moving cart during a rollover event.”
Last year, there were two fatal golf cart accidents in The Villages directly linked to ejections due to the lack of seat belts:
• A 74-year-old man from Holmes, N.Y. on Feb. 15, 2021 had been leaving the postal station on Morse Boulevard north of County Road 466 when he entered into the path of a silver Mercedes two-seater automobile. He was ejected from the golf cart as a result of the collision. He was trauma alerted to Ocala Regional Medical Center where he died from his injuries.
• Gregory Joseph Ebert, 57, of the Village of Monarch Grove, was driving a green 2021 Yamaha golf cart at 10:30 p.m. Aug. 7, 2021 southbound at the Brownwood Bridge when he struck the curb located on the left-hand side of the bridge. After hitting the guardrail, Ebert was ejected from the golf cart which overturned and landed on top of him. When officers arrived on the scene, the golf cart was lying on Ebert’s neck. Ebert was unresponsive and was pronounced dead at the scene by EMS personnel. The report indicated the golf cart had been traveling at an estimated speed of 20 miles per hour in an area where the recommended speed is 5 mph.