Golf Cart (Under-Speed Vehicle) Safety

The summer months bring an increased opportunity to hop on a golf cart at your favorite golf course, at a community event or possibly even in your own neighborhood. The New Albany Police Department and Plain Township Fire Department want you and your family to stay safe when it comes to operating these vehicles.

Golf carts are designated as Under-Speed Vehicles (USV) by Ohio Revised Code. The NAPD offers USV inspections for the purpose of licensing them to travel on certain New Albany streets. The USV is only permitted on public streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or under. Before the inspection can be scheduled, the following criteria must be met:

  • Vehicle must have a rear plate light
  • Vehicle must have two headlights and one taillight
  • Vehicle must have working brakes, emergency brake and brake lights
  • Vehicle must have audible horn and a rear-view mirror
  • Vehicle must have turn signals visible from front and rear
  • Vehicle must have a windshield with a windshield wiper
  • Vehicle must have valid insurance

Call New Albany Police at 614.855.1234 to schedule an inspection appointment. You can view the New Albany Police inspection form for Under-Speed Vehicles (USV) by clicking here.

After your USV inspection is approved by an officer, you can visit any Title Office with proof of ownership, insurance and the Inspection Certificate given to you by the inspecting police officer. You will then be given a Certificate of Title. You can take the Certificate of Title to any BMV Registrar who will issue plates for the vehicle, which must be mounted to the USV.

Remember to follow all traffic laws, including but not limited to:

  • Do not drink alcohol before or while operating your USV
  • Always yield to larger or faster vehicles
  • Do not drive on private property
  • The USV is only permitted on public streets where the posted speed limit is 35 mph or under
  • Unless a sign prohibits, use on walking/biking paths are permitted
  • Always wear seatbelts, if equipped
  • Follow all motor vehicle laws and rules of the road
  • Driver must have a valid driver’s license

Golf carts are not designed with or required to meet the same Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards that cars and passenger trucks are required to meet to prevent injury and death. Golf carts are designed to travel around 10-15 mph to assist with the transportation of golfers on the course. Carts simply cannot protect you or your children on the roadway in a motor vehicle crash.

According to data from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine and the International Journal of Pediatric Otorhinolaryngology, the number of visits to U.S. emergency departments for golf cart-related injuries tripled from approximately 6,000 in 1990 to nearly 18,000 in 2015.

Children represent more than 30% of all golf cart-related injuries treated in U.S. emergency departments.

The use of golf carts carries “considerable risk of injury and morbidity” to drivers and passengers of all ages, especially kids and older adults, say researchers from the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

While the most common cause of injury for all ages was falling or jumping from the cart, Dr. Gary Smith of Nationwide Children’s Hospital explained, “Children are even more likely than adults to fall from the golf cart, and these falls are associated with higher rates of head and neck injuries and hospitalizations. Greater efforts are needed to prevent these injuries.”

In June 2020, a 2-year-old in Miami County (Ohio) was killed in a golf cart accident. According to WDTN, the child was sitting in the golf cart while his grandfather was driving on the property of the family residence. The family dog ran into the path of the cart, and the grandfather swerved and hit the brakes to avoid hitting the dog. The child fell from the golf cart and struck his head on the ground.

“Because golf carts are not designed for children and the majority offer no child safety features, we recommend that children under the age of 6 years not be transported in golf carts and that drivers be at least 16 years old to operate the vehicle,” said Tracy Mehan, MA, CPST, research associate in the Center for Injury Research and Policy at Nationwide Children’s.

The Plain Township Fire Department says to make sure to follow the manufacturer’s guidelines to prevent injury or death of yourself or a loved one.


  • Read the owner’s manual for the make, model, and year of the golf cart. The manufacturer is the expert on the proper use of their product.
  • Review and follow the recommendations for safe transport of all passengers. Identify the age recommendation of passengers.
  • Utilize the passenger restraint system on each trip (although some golf carts do not have a restraint system).
  • Do not exceed the recommended speed.  


  • Service the vehicle on a regular basis.
  • Check for manufacturer recalls through the Consumer Product Safety Commission.
  • Recall on specific models: Golf carts have had issues with the brake cable failure leading to crashes.
  • Recall on specific models: Golf carts have had issues with fuel leaks in the tank which create a fire hazard.

Child Passenger Safety

Car seats at this time are not crash tested or recommended by child restraint manufacturers for use on golf carts. Call the customer service number for the car seat manufacturer if you have questions about using their product on a golf cart.


  • Average gross vehicle weight of a car: 4,094 pounds
  • Average gross vehicle weight of a pickup truck: 5,000-7,000 pounds
  • Average gross vehicle weight of a dump truck: 26,193 pounds.
  • Average gross vehicle weight of a golf cart: 900 pounds

Simplified crash physics: Mass x Acceleration = Force (Weight of the vehicle X speed of travel = Impact of crash forces.) A 900-pound golf cart and its passengers cannot withstand the impact of a car, pickup truck or dump truck.

If you have additional questions, please contact New Albany Police at 614.855.1234 or the Plain Township Fire Department at 614.855.7370.