Go-Carts and Children: A LETHAL COMBINATION

A report released by the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) on February 5, 2004, stated there were 165 fatal accidents associated with go-carts from 1985 to 1996. Investigations show that tipping over, hitting motor vehicles or stationary objects, and losing control of the cart were the major hazards.

The report goes on to say that about one-third of the fatalities involved homemade go-carts. The other two-thirds involved go-carts that were equipped with at least one safety device, such as a safety belt, pads on the steering wheel, or chain guards. More than 50% of the incidents involved the cart hitting a moving vehicle or stationary object. Other incidents reported involved the carts tipping over or sliding, the victim falling or being thrown from the cart, or hot surface contact. Over 6o% of the fatalities involved children under 15.

Typical scenarios in the report include:

  • A three year old boy, sitting on his brother’s lap on a go-cart, died when he was crushed against the steering wheel of the cart as it collided with a tractor;
  • A four year old girl driving a go-cart at a relative’s home lost control, entered a street, and was struck by traffic – she died as a result of a fractured neck;
  • A seven year old driver died and his eight year old passenger suffered brain injuries when their go-cart went down an embankment onto a highway and into the path of a pick-up truck.

Besides fatalities, the CPSC also reported over 65,000 injuries between 1991 and 1996. It is important that children have adult supervision when operating a go-cart; use it in safe areas without hazards, such as nearby traffic or fixed objects, and use the proper safety equipment.

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