GOLF CARTS TAKE TO THE STREETS
When Bob Woll and his wife, Shirley, head to the local frozen custard stand in Sesser, Ill., they make the short trip in their electric golf cart. On some nights, two or three other carts sit in the parking lot. "With the economy like it is, people are trying to save a little money," says Woll, 67, a retired electrician. Sesser, a town of 2,000 southeast of St. Louis, now has about 10 carts on its streets, Woll says.
Golf carts are popping up in many communities as an economical response to high gas prices. Twenty-six states allow low-speed electric and gas-powered vehicles on local roads or permit individual communities to set their own rules pertaining to use. Although regulations vary, most of the carts must be equipped with lights, horn, turn signals and, in some cases, a slow-moving-vehicle warning flag. But seat belts usually aren't required-and that worries safety experts.
Two recent medical studies found a rise in golf cart accidents in recent years, with an increase in injuries occurring on streets or other public property. "A lot of people perceive golf carts as little more than toys, but our findings suggest they can be quite dangerous, especially when used on public roads," says Gerald McGwin, associate director for research at the Center for Injury Sciences at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
For Woll, whose cart tops out at 13 mph, his major concern is the approaching cold weather. But he'll be prepared: His wife plans to make a cover for the cart, and he plans to install a heater.
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