In recent years, the cities of Bay St. Louis and Waveland have become home to a new phenomenon, the golf cart. 

Not a day goes by that I don’t see one traveling slowly down the streets. 

Also, not a day goes by that I don’t see someone either holding a small child in their lap, or someone who appears to be underage driving one of these vehicles, or unrestrained riders. 

When I was about 11 years old, I was one of those unrestrained riders riding in a golf cart with a teenage driver. 

We were driving in circles in the parking lot of our church. I was standing on the back of the golf cart unrestrained, with only my hand holding onto a bar. 

The driver took one of those turns too sharp, I lost my grip, and fell onto the pavement hitting my head. 

As a result, I was diagnosed with a concussion and had a blood clot in my head, which led to a three-day hospital stay and a summer of bed rest and limited activity. 

Thankfully, it wasn’t anything more serious than that. Although, to an 11-year-old, it was a terrifying experience and it still haunts me. I think I’ve only been on a golf cart once since then and that was to cover a story on an actual golf course. 

I never held, and still hold, no ill will against the driver of the golf cart. They were inexperienced at driving and I should known better and restrained myself. 

Yet, the people I see holding small children don’t seem to know very much about safety and responsibility. What happens if there’s an accident and the child is thrown from their arms?

I read a story this week out of Montgomery County, Texas: “Child Killed when Golf Cart Flips.” 

“The 11-year-old boy was suffering from a severe head injury,” the article from the Montgomery County Police Reporter states. “CPR was immediately started and he was transported to Tomball Hospital where he was pronounced deceased. According to witnesses, a teen was driving the golf cart on the road with several other juveniles on it. The cart rolled onto its side causing the child to hit the pavement.” 

It’s such a sad story, and one that hit way too close to home for me. 

But his death might have been prevented if some proper health and safety measures were used. 

When Tropical Storm Cristobal was rolling ashore, I took a drive down Beach Boulevard to take some pictures.

Right in front of me was a golf cart with two adults in the front and two children in the back. I remember thinking how irresponsible it was for them to do that. I can only imagine what would have happened if a big gust of wind had toppled that small golf cart over. 

To me, they don’t seem like a safe mode of transportation. And I really don’t get the appeal of having one. Does it get people to their destinations faster? Is it just a symbol of status? How does it improve one’s quality of life? These are meaningful questions I’ve asked and haven’t really received meaningful answers, people have just kind of laughed it off. 

This isn’t me telling people not to buy a golf cart, people are free to do as they choose. 

But lately, in response to the COVID-19 restrictions, people are whining that they are responsible for their own health and safety. 

And from what I’ve seen, at least when it comes to golf cart usage, people are a long way off from being responsible. 

Sure, if an adult wants to take the risk and ride unrestrained in a golf cart or any other vehicle, they take on the risk that they could be seriously injured. And, yes, I know that injury can still occur whether restrained or not.

However, that small child sitting in a person’s lap. Where’s their choice in the matter? Is it fair for them to be put into a potentially life-threatening situation? 

I don’t think it is fair. I don’t think it’s responsible to send pre-teens out to drive a golf cart either. 

On what is supposed to be a walking and bike path along the beach, I’ve sometimes seen young people driving a golf cart on that pathway, which they are not supposed to do. 

I also know that law enforcement officers can’t be everywhere at once and regulating golf carts is probably a tedious task. 

So, I would implore people to show us how responsible they can be when it comes to taking of their own and their family’s well-being. Wear the proper restraints, properly restrain your children, and don’t let underage drivers behind the wheel. 

I don’t want to write up a tragic story like this young boy’s from Texas. He had his whole life ahead of him and now it’s gone, in the blink of an eye. 

We definitely aren’t promised tomorrow, no matter how responsible we might be with our health and safety. 

But, that doesn’t mean we should go out making irresponsible decisions all the time. Contrary to popular belief, people can still live life to the fullest even while following health and safety guidelines. 

Cassandra is a staff writer at the Sea Coast Echo and can be reached at cassandra@seacoastecho.com

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