Golf Carts in Your Ministry

If your ministry owns them, emphasize safety, driver training.

Golf carts have become popular at campgrounds, college campuses, and megachurches. They’re affordable, easy to operate, and a convenient way to transport people and supplies. Many people enjoy zipping around in these breezy miniature vehicles, especially young people itching to get behind the wheel of a vehicle of their own.

Safety is important for any kind of vehicle, and golf carts are no exception. While golf carts travel at low speeds, they typically lack seat belts and can topple easily when turning. About 13,000 people each year are treated in U.S. emergency rooms for injuries caused by golf cart accidents. To maximize safety, it’s a good idea to have a policy for golf cart use that follows general safety principles and requires all drivers to be trained.

Develop Golf Cart Safety Policy

Here are some recommendations to consider when developing a golf cart safety policy for your organization.

  • Require a driver’s license. While it may be legal to operate a golf cart without a driver’s license in your state, consider limiting driving privileges to experienced, licensed drivers.
  • Set a speed limit. Most golf carts travel no faster than 16 miles an hour, but some carts can go up to 25 miles an hour. If the maximum speed of ministry carts exceeds 16 miles an hour, it would be prudent to set a speed limit. Passengers could be tossed from the vehicle if the cart hits an obstruction, and pedestrians could be hurt if a cart strikes them.
  •  Establish cart paths. Golf carts are not designed to travel through mud and over tree branches. Setting out a distinct cart path can help keep passengers safe and prolong the life of the cart. Driving paths should be relatively flat and dry. 
  •  Be careful in parking lots. Roaming cars and pedestrians make for a maze of potential accidents. Drivers should take care when moving through parking lots, always yielding to pedestrians and automobiles.
  •  Reduce distractions. Discourage the use of cell phones, side conversations, and eating while driving, which can distract the driver.
  • Follow manufacturer guidelines. Golf carts come with instructional manuals that deal with safety issues. Follow the manufacturers’ safety guidelines.
  •  Ban night driving. Driving a golf cart after dark is very dangerous, because the typical cart isn’t equipped with headlights. Consider storing carts in a secure, locked location overnight.
  •  Make safety clear. Consider putting a sign in the cart advising drivers and passengers of important safety rules, such as the ones detailed below.

Require Driver Training

Allow ministry employees and volunteers to drive golf carts only after they have been fully trained and understand how to operate them safely. Here are some general guidelines golf cart drivers can follow for safe operation. Your ministry may wish to add additional ones.

  •  Don’t drive a golf cart unless you hold a valid state driver’s license.
  •  Never allow more passengers than seats available. 
  •  Require every person in the golf cart to remain seated at all times.
  •  Always look before backing up.
  • Keep arms and legs inside the cart while it’s in motion.
  • Follow a distinct, approved cart path for travel.
  •  Only make slow, controlled turns, as golf carts are often top heavy and can topple if a quick turn is made.
  • Wait until the golf cart comes to a complete stop before entering or exiting the cart.
  •  Never drive a golf cart after dark.
  •  When a golf cart is not in use, remove the keys and set its parking brake to make sure no one drives unattended.

Driving a golf cart can be fun, but all vehicles come with risks. By following best practices for safe golf cart operation, your ministry can enjoy the use of these vehicles and maximize their usefulness.