Golf carts are like cars, but not really. They have four wheels and controls like a regular automobile, but the similarities end there. They are not subject to any sort of crash testing, for instance. What happens when an official crash-testing organization runs one through its paces on its equipment? It’s not pretty.
The European New Car Assessment Program (Euro NCAP), the equivalent of the NHTSA in the United States, did just that in 2014, as Bangshift shared. The organization considered the golf cart, a Club Car Villager, to be a “heavy quadricycle” officially. It ran the vehicle through two tests featuring impacts at 50 kph (31 mph.) The frontal impact happened first, and the European regulators captured it from several angles, just like a real crash test. It doesn’t seem like they took it extremely seriously, as you can hear them laughing after the first impact. It’s pretty rough.
Lack of respect for the crash test dummy aside, the human analog is badly damaged by the tests. The Club Car Villager does not appear to be equipped with a collapsible steering column or intentionally designed crumple zone. The result is the dummy gets its upper body mangled around the steering wheel and its lower body crushed between the seat and the dashboard. This golf cart does have seat belts, but it doesn’t look like they do much.
The side impact isn’t much better. The golf cart has pretty much zero protection along the sides. The dummy gets hit directly by the test rig, which is the first time I have ever seen that. I’m pretty sure anybody in this thing in either of these crashes would be seriously injured or killed. For the record, Euro NCAP said the cart performed “very poorly and showed serious risks of life-threatening injuries.”
Many places in the US will allow these carts on public roads as “neighborhood vehicles” on streets with speed limits of 35 mph or slower. It’s important to remember that these crashes happened at those speeds, and they share the road with other full-size cars too. So next time you take a golf cart up to speed, remember this video. They arguably offer pretty much no protection from injury at relatively sedate speeds. I’m not saying wear a helmet or anything, I’m saying avoid traffic and large stationary objects.
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