Go-Kart Safety for Kids: Top Five Tips

Do you remember soapbox races as a kid? Or maybe hearing stories about them at your father or grandfather's knee. The sport was hugely popular a generation ago. It consisted of kids making their own "soapbox" cars—basically cars made from scraps—to race on the street. The first soapbox derby race was held in 1933 and drew more than 300 children of all ages in Dayton, OH. From there an entire sport was born and continues to this day. Children from around the United States compete at the local level, all with their eyes on the prize: competing in the All American Soapbox Derby held annually in Arkon, OH.

Though today's kids are more likely to be found on a go-kart or off-road buggy than a wooden fruit crate cobbled into a soapbox race car, parents continue to be concerned about safety. And while today's generation enjoys safety precautions like helmets, there are other steps parents can take to help kids be as safe as possible while enjoying their go-karts.

  1. Go-karts are machines and should be treated with respect
    Teaching children the ins and outs of go-kart safety can't be emphasized enough. Explain the reasons behind safety rules so that kids will understand the cause and effect of their actions behind the wheel. While playing "chicken" with a friend in his go-kart sounds like great fun, explain the potential consequences of such actions.
  2. Wear proper clothing
    Just as on an ATV or other motorized recreational vehicle, it's important to wear clothes that fits well and isn't too loose. Flapping shirt tails or baggy pants can easily get caught in moving parts and cause injury.
  3. Always wear a helmet
    It's tempting when in a rush to get on a go-kart or meet up with a friend to "forget" to grab a helmet. Make it a rule in your house that helmets are a must, every single time a go-kart is taken out.
  4. Safety harnesses required
    Any quality go-kart will have some kind of safety harness system. Generally, the more connection points the harness has, the safer it is. So, a 3-point harness with a shoulder and lap belt provides more restraint than a lap belt alone. A 5-point harness is the best available. Inspect the harness regularly to ensure it's in good condition, all connection points are securely attached and the latches hold properly. If buying used, make sure the harness has not been damaged or removed. Whatever safety harness system your buggy has, be sure your child is using it every time they ride.
  5. Set limits and enforce them
    Make sure kids are aware of the importance of being safe while go-karting. Losing privileges is a good place to start. Kids love using go-karts and will learn their lesson quickly in order to get back to more play.

Go-karting is a great sport and offers kids the chance to gain confidence and coordination in addition to simply having fun. By implementing these five safety tips, parents can gain peace of mind while children enjoys the benefits that go-karts offer.