Be Alert Bruins: Utility Carts Are Not Toys

UCLA Fleet & Transit, in partnership with UCLA Insurance & Risk Management and UCLA Environment, Health & Safety will launch the 8th annual “Be Alert Bruins” Driver Safety Campaign during the month of April.

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This year’s campaign focuses on utility cart safety on the UCLA campus. University drivers who operate utility carts are often not aware of the inherent risks associated with these specialized vehicles. UCLA has experienced a variety of incidents over the past several years, including unsecured cargo falling from carts, a cart losing control and striking a wall, a pedestrian being struck, and passengers being ejected from the cab.

Because utility carts are small, agile vehicles that typically operate in close proximity to pedestrians, they pose a unique safety risk. Many operate off-road on sidewalks, paths, and even across campus lawns. They are also difficult to hear, as most are powered electrically and produce little engine noise. And since carts can alternate from on- to off-road, drivers should be aware that changing terrain can contribute to tip-over hazards.

UCLA's vehicle loss data shows that 13 incidents have occurred since 2011, resulting in two serious injuries and over a quarter million dollars in costs. Five of those incidents occurred in 2016 alone.

So what is a utility cart? They are low-speed vehicles that operate at 25 mph or slower.  They are versatile and can be outfitted to accommodate operational needs of varying campus departments. Depending on the type of cart, they can be used to carry passengers or transport cargo with either enclosed or open cargo beds. Some require seat belts while others do not. Utility carts without seatbelts are outfitted with hip restraints and handholds to help passengers remain in the cab.  Utility carts include golf carts, Neighborhood Electric Vehicles (NEVs) and Low Speed Vehicles (LSVs).

Utility cart collisions are preventable by simply employing defensive driving practices. Whether you are a driver, passenger or pedestrian, utility cart safety is everyone’s responsibility.

Remember: Utility carts are NOT toys.  Drive with care.