Go Kart Dangers: Is it safe for my family?

I’m most commonly the parent to take risks in our family. Naturally, it was my wife who first questioned whether or not our go kart was safe for the kids. This prompted me to do some research to convince her they were. Even though I had no clue at the time…

Go karts are safe for kids to ride if safety equipment is used correctly and the driver makes safe decisions. Once you start letting your kids drive, there are some definite considerations to be made. Here are our considerations.

Safety Statistics

In 2014, 11,000 go kart related injuries were reported, 4,400 of those being children. (Source)

Compared to dirt bike injuries of 23,800 (Source) and ATV injuries of 81,800 (Source), go karts are much safer. 

The ability to have seat belts and the use of cages on some go karts drastically improve safety.

Safety Equipment Suggestions


  • Sunglasses (Helmet if you have one!)
    • Flying insects and rocks do not feel good in your eye!
  • Keep long hair contained!
    • Getting hair caught in rotating parts of go karts is a common injury that can easily be avoided.
  • Remove or contain loose clothing
    • Anything that could be taken by the wind and wrapped around any moving parts.
  • One person per seat
    • No kids on your lap! This will affect your driving ability and could lead to poor reaction time or a wreck.
  • Something to hold on to
    • This could be a bar on the side, a handle from the cage, or something you rig up that attaches *somewhere*. Plenty of places to bolt a strap to.
  • Seat Belts
    • Not all go karts have seat belts, but you can add them! Seat belts go a long way towards safety and will give your kids (and parents) more piece of mind. 
  • Walkie-Talkie or Phone
    • Go kart issues happen when you least expect it, be prepared to contact someone to help you when they do!
  • Cage
    • Our go kart has a cage that goes over our heads and attaches to the front and rear. Most go karts with suspension on them have cages, if your’s doesn’t it’s smart to limit your speed around corners to reduce the risk of flipping.
  • Padding on Bars
    • While this is getting a bit out there, if anyone’s head is close to a bar, a padded one hurts a whole lot less! You can tape on a pool noodle in a pinch, but specific sized dense padding does exist for go karts and make a nice permanent addition. 
  • Driver mods
    • While not something you can add per se, it might be the most important item on this list. You control the go kart, so make smart choices! More below…
  • Time of day?
    • I always check the time before going out, if it’s pushing dusk, just go tomorrow. You never know when an issue can happen, and most go karts don’t have lights. You don’t want to get stuck pushing your go kart back in the dark, ESPECIALLY with kids. I wouldn’t suggest this for any specific reason or anything…

What Age Is It Safe For My Kids To Drive?


This one is a little tricky and you will have probably already made an assumption based on your own kids. My wife would say they aren’t big enough until they can drive a car, but I’m of the mind that my 6-year-old is only a year or two away from driving. 

If you have a two-seater go kart, or a bigger go kart, chances are you have a way to let the kart choose for you. Most kids are unable to reach the pedals safely while in the seat if they’re too young. That is honestly the easiest way to decide. 

Seating position for go karts makes all the difference in confident driving. Don’t succumb to the ideas of strapping wood or blocks onto the pedals to make them taller as I’ve thought about. It’s just not worth getting a kid in there when they aren’t ready. Ideally, your kid should be able to fully depress the brake pedal with still a slight bend in their leg. At this point start them out slow and drill home the importance of early braking!

Safe Driving Tips With Kids In Your Go Kart


When you are driving your kids around, if they’re anything like mine, they’ll be loving it and yelling for you to go faster! However, in the beginning, my kids were silent (abnormal) and holding on for dear life. We hadn’t gone more than 50 ft and I stopped to check on them. Of course, they told me they were having fun, but from there on out, I drove incredibly cautious. 

We primarily drive the go kart around a lake community with lots of elevation changes and blind corners. I have on many occasions been surprised by oncoming traffic. When I have the kids with me not only do I go half the speed at most, I’m constantly ready to brake. Imagine you’re driving your car on icy or snowy roads where you have to make decisions way in advance. Do that with your kids in the go kart and you’ll be perfectly safe!

We are also always reminding the kids every time they ride where to hold on to, make sure they are buckled up, and to yell at me if they want to stop. It’s also a very good idea to have them wear sunglasses at the bare minimum in case a rock is throw up or if we go past tree branches. Remind them to keep their mouths closed to avoid insects! If you have helmets for them that would be a huge plus, but not required if you follow the other suggestions. 

Bottom Line


I’m a big believer that almost any sport or activity can be adapted to be kid-safe. This *should* go without saying, but as a parent, you know your kid best. Just take things easy and ramp up from there as everyone gets comfortable. The one thing to remember is that go karts are a blast for kids, just make sure not to scare them and watch their interest fly out the window, so to speak.




I love to drive my kids around in our go kart and I'm always looking for an opportunity to share what I've learned with others!

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