How dangerous go-karts are depends on how fast people are going, how skilled the drivers are, and what safety precautions are taken.
Since I was a kid, I have been driving and racing go-karts and know how to use them safely. While people get hurt in go-kart races, most accidents and injuries are preventable.
Drivers must wear safety equipment at all times, and racers must be taught to care about the other racer’s safety. I have seen people get hurt because they neglected to use the right safety equipment.
A lot of injuries happen because of a simple lack of experience. Young kids with little experience should not be racing at high speeds. Drivers, especially kids, need to learn to drive well before they compete in their first race.
Are Go-Karts Dangerous?
Yes, many people get hurt in go-kart races, including many children. About 11,000 people end up in the hospital for go-karting injuries every year, about 40% of them children.
Go-karting is a popular sport, so it isn’t quite as dangerous as those numbers make it sound. However, it is a risky and not a safe activity. Many injuries are to the head and face, often because someone wasn’t wearing a helmet. Most injuries are elsewhere on the body:
- 21% of injuries are to the head
- 38% of injuries are to the upper body
- 35% of injuries are to the lower body
- 4% of injuries are from clothing or hair getting caught in the machinery
While any collision can result in injury, seatbelts and harnesses can keep people from getting hurt. People are slammed against the frame or against the steering wheel during collisions. A properly fitting harness can prevent these injuries. Sometimes, someone who doesn’t wear a harness is thrown out of the go-kart during an accident.
There’s more to go-kart safety than wearing a helmet, wearing a seat belt, and practicing before you race. There are many reasons why go-karts are dangerous and many ways to reduce these risks.
You can use many techniques and rules while racing to minimize the danger to yourself and others. Choosing the right kart and the right track, keeping hair short, and not wearing loose clothing, and maintaining equipment can keep you or your kid safe.
Why are Go-Karts Dangerous?
Go-karts are dangerous because they are fast (often 40 or 50 miles per hour), and they do not have the same safety features that cars do. When riding a go-kart, you are exposed and not protected by a larger vehicle’s weight and impact resistance.
A car has crumple zones that are designed to collapse during a collision to prevent the energy of the crash from affecting the rider. Cars also have airbags, safety cells, and much more. A go-cart is a very simple, open vehicle with none of these advantages. Safety features on go-karts, such as a harness or a roll cage, are very basic compared to what a car offers.
How to Avoid Go-Karting Injuries
Again, most go-karting injuries are preventable. Sometimes, someone can be injured while following safety rules, but a rule was usually broken. Taking these few rules seriously can prevent most injuries.
Don’t Bump Into Other Karts
Never use go-karts as bumper cars. Bumper cars are slow, safe, and designed to bump into each other. Go-karts are fast, dangerous, and not meant to hit anything. You will get kicked out if you intentionally hit anyone.
Even if you do not intentionally hit anyone, you aren’t allowed to drive recklessly. Pay attention and take other people’s safety seriously. Think ahead and follow what the other drivers are trying to do.
Maintain Your Kart Properly
Charge your batteries, change the oil, replace your batteries. Like a car, bicycle, or motorbike, a go-kart will stop working fast if you don’t maintain it. Having your engine seize up in the middle of the race can injure you as well as wreck your go-kart.
Wear Tight Clothing
If you want to be as safe as possible, get a race suit. Otherwise, avoid loose clothing. While getting clothing caught in the machinery accounts for only a few percent of injuries, it could easily happen to you if you ignore this rule.
Don’t Take a Passenger With You
There should never be more than one person on a go-kart during a race. It is needlessly dangerous to do this. Two-seat go-karts are safe for more than one person, but you should never race with two people.
Don’t Take Sharp Turns
Taking a sharp turn at 50+ miles per hour is one of the worst things you can do on a go-kart. You could easily flip the go-kart over and end up seriously injured. Sharp turns at high speeds are never ok.
Go-Karting Can be Worth its Risks
Go-kart racing is a thrill for kids, teenagers, young adults, and even older people. While many people are injured in these races every year, most of these injuries are preventable. Like skiing, snowboarding, and motorcycling, it can be worth trying even though there are risks involved.