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Golf Cars

Safety first
Standards are always at work.
Something for everyone: manufacturers, owners and golfers

Safety first

Golf cars are a convenience enjoyed by millions of players. Nearly two-thirds of all regulation 18-hole rounds are played with golf cars and for some, especially golfers with disabilities, these vehicles are a necessity [1] . As much as they are relied upon, however, golf cars are often improperly used and neglected. Unsafe operation can lead to accidents and personal injuries and can cause serious damage to the course.

Golf car safety is enhanced when the machines are operated within a specific set of safety rules and practices such as not relying on the brake while driving down a steep hill or not cleaning an electrically powered car with a pressure hose

Standards are always at work

According to industry experts, golf cars are considered safe when properly operated in accordance with the safety and operation warnings affixed to the machines. Fred Somers, general counsel and secretary/treasurer of the National Golf Car Manufacturers Association (NGCMA), notes, "There is a certain level of efficiency and safety needed for a golf car; standards can be used to make sure that adequate levels of safety are met."

Somers explained that the NGCMA Engineering Specifications Committee set about to develop standards for the safe use of golf cars. NGCMA was also accredited (i.e., recognized) by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI), a private non-profit organization that administers and coordinates the U.S. voluntary standardization and conformity assessment system, as a developer of American National Standards for golf car safety.

The NGCMA-developed guidelines were approved and published in 1999 as the American National Standard for Golf Cars - Safety and Performance Specification, (ANSI/NGCMA Z130.1-1999). The standard "was developed to establish safety specifications for the design and operation of electric and gasoline-powered golf cars . . . Safety codes and standards are intended to enhance public health and safety." Z.130.1 stipulates general safety practices, maintenance, fuel handling and storage/battery charging, operating safety rules and practices, and manufacturers requirements for electric-powered and gasoline-powered cars.

In addition to these safety expectations, effective performance criteria (e.g., making sure that all golf cars, no matter what manufacturer, work the same way under the same conditions) are included, as well as references to other safety standards, including ANSI Z535.4-1998, Product safety signs and labels, ANSI/NFPA 30-1996, Flammable and combustible liquids code, and ANSI/NFPA 58-1998, Storage and handling of liquefied petroleum gases.

Something for everyone: manufacturers, owners and golfers

The first step in golf car safety is for both the manufacturer and the user of the equipment to be well informed. Because the Z130.1 standard is voluntary, implementation of the standard cannot be mandated. However, users of golf car equipment are encouraged to investigate whether the equipment they use or own has been properly constructed in accordance with the criteria referenced ANSI/NGCMA Z130.1 and to become familiar with the safety and usage manuals, and the instructional labels, provided with every golf car.

Those who care for the equipment, such as golf course employees, should be especially conscious of relevant safety and maintenance standards so that they are able to instruct golfers on how to properly use these vehicles.

By putting standards first, golfers can safely concentrate on the more enjoyable aspects of their game.

[1] According to the Golf Course Superintendents Association of America (GCSAA).


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