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Go-carts, also known as fun-karts, have long been a popular recreational activity for both children and adults. The thrill of racing around a track at high speeds is an exhilarating experience for many. However, with the excitement comes inherent risks. Between 1985 and 1996, a significant number of go-cart-related accidents were reported, leading to numerous injuries and fatalities, especially among children under the age of 15.

This article delves into the rise of go-cart-related accidents, the associated injuries and fatalities, and what can be done to mitigate these risks.

From January 1985 through December 1996, an estimated 125,900 go-cart/fun-kart-related injuries were treated in U.S. hospital emergency rooms. This averages to about 10,500 injuries per year. Alarmingly, about 65% of these injuries, amounting to 81,300 cases, involved children under the age of 15. Over this period, there was a significant increase in the number of injuries to children.

Year Under 15 yrs. 15 yrs. & Older Total
1985 5,200 (67%) 2,600 7,800
1986 5,100 (67%) 2,500 7,600
1987 4,400 (64%) 2,500 6,900
1988 3,000 (58%) 2,200 5,200
1989 4,800 (69%) 2,200 7,000
1990 5,100 (61%) 3,200 8,300
1991 6,400 (69%) 2,900 9,300
1992 7,800 (66%) 4,100 11,900
1993 7,200 (64%) 4,000 11,200
1994 9,600 (64%) 5,300 14,900
1995 10,000 (61%) 6,300 16,300
1996 12,700 (65%) 6,800 19,500

Source: U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS)

Injury Patterns

For children, head and face injuries (including eyelid, eye area, and nose) accounted for about 21 percent of the injuries. Upper body parts accounted for 38 percent, lower body parts 35 percent, and the remaining 6 percent were injuries to all parts of the body. More severe injuries to the head and face, such as hemorrhages, crushing, concussions, and hematomas, accounted for about 14 percent. The hospitalization rate for children under the age of 15 was about 3 percent, compared to the overall 5 percent hospitalization rate for all ages.


During the 12-year period from 1985 to 1996, there were 231 go-cart/fun-kart-related deaths reported, with 67% (155 cases) involving children under 15. The primary hazard patterns leading to these fatalities included collisions with stationary objects or motor vehicles, tipovers, jumps or stunts, entrapment, going over inclines or banks, and falls or being thrown from the cart. Head injury was the leading cause of death in over half of these cases.

Common Hazard Patterns

Based on incidents reported from 1994 through 1996, the injuries associated with go-carts/fun-karts were classified into several hazard patterns:

  • Collision: with stationary objects or other go-carts/motor vehicles.
  • Fell/Thrown: from the go-cart.
  • Tipover: of the go-cart.
  • Hit/Runover: by other vehicles.
  • Entrapment: hair or clothing caught in exposed engine or chain drive.
  • Other: burns from hot engine, exposed exhaust pipe, debris in eyes, or cuts on sharp objects.
  • Unknown: incidents described as “wrecked,” which may result from tipping over or collision.

Table 2: Percent Distribution of Injuries by Hazard Patterns (Children Under 15 Years, 1994-1996)

Hazard Pattern 1994 1995 1996
Collision 27% 24% 23%
Fell/Thrown 13% 25% 20%
Tipover 9% 10% 9%
Hit/Runover 6% 7% 10%
Entrapment 4% 2% 3%
Other 18% 15% 14%
Unknown 23% 17% 21%

Mitigating Risks

Safety Precautions

To reduce the risk of go-cart-related injuries and fatalities, several safety measures can be implemented:

  1. Wear Helmets: Helmets can significantly reduce the risk of fatal head injuries. At least 20 of the fatal head injuries described in the report might have been prevented if helmets were worn.
  2. Use Safety Devices: Go-carts should be equipped with safety devices such as seat belts, chain guards, and engine guards to prevent entrapment and other injuries.
  3. Supervision: Children should always be supervised while operating go-carts. Adult supervision can help prevent accidents caused by reckless driving or stunts.
  4. Proper Training: Ensure that children are properly trained in the safe operation of go-carts before allowing them to drive.
  5. Track Safety: Go-cart tracks should be designed with safety in mind, including barriers to prevent collisions, clear signage, and proper maintenance.

What to Do If Hurt at a Go-Cart Track

If you or a loved one is injured at a go-cart track, follow these steps:

  1. Seek Medical Attention: Your health and safety are the top priority. Seek medical attention immediately, even if the injury seems minor.
  2. Report the Incident: Notify the track management about the accident and injury. Ensure that an incident report is filed.
  3. Document Everything: Take photos of the accident scene, the go-cart, and any visible injuries. Collect contact information from witnesses.
  4. Keep Records: Maintain records of medical treatments, expenses, and any communication with the track management.

Hiring a Personal Injury Lawyer

If the injury was due to negligence on the part of the go-cart track or another party, you might be entitled to compensation. Hiring a personal injury lawyer can help you navigate the legal process and ensure that your rights are protected.

Why Hire a Personal Injury Lawyer?

  • Expertise: Personal injury lawyers have the expertise to handle complex legal matters and negotiate with insurance companies.
  • Investigation: An experienced lawyer will conduct a thorough investigation to gather evidence and build a strong case.
  • Maximize Compensation: A lawyer can help you maximize the compensation you receive for medical expenses, lost wages, pain and suffering, and other damages.


Go-carts offer an exciting and enjoyable experience for many, but they also come with inherent risks. The rise in go-cart-related accidents and fatalities, particularly among children, highlights the need for increased safety measures and awareness. By implementing proper safety precautions, ensuring supervision, and seeking legal assistance when necessary, we can work towards reducing the number of go-cart-related injuries and fatalities. Remember, safety should always be the top priority when engaging in any recreational activity.

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