DEAR ABBY: May I respond to the assertion that letting the 6-year-old drive a golf cart is unsafe (Dec. 31)? Six-year-olds routinely drive go-carts, motorcycles and the like recreationally. Most competitive leagues have divisions especially for them (peewee leagues). As long as they have the proper protective gear, this is in no way child endangerment.
I drove a motorcycle and go-cart at the age of 5, and 31 years later, I attribute my spotless driving record to the early and vast experience I have. -- AL M. IN BOISE, IDAHO
DEAR AL: The grandmother who wrote that letter ("Seriously Worried in Florida") stated that she felt the golf cart was too big and powerful for the safety of her grandchild. She also did not indicate that any safety gear was being provided for the little girl. I'm pleased your experience was a positive one, but read on:
DEAR ABBY: About 13 years ago, my nephew was allowed to drive a golf cart at the age of 8. He fatally injured his 6-year-old stepsister. He is still traumatized by it.
And if that isn't bad enough, last June my great-grandson was driving a similar piece of equipment on his third birthday (a gift from his paternal grandfather). While the whole family watched, he overturned it as he drove off the road and into a ditch. Everyone seemed to think it was "cute." What is wrong with these idiots? -- BEWILDERED GRAMMY IN MARYLAND
DEAR ABBY: A 6-year-old driving a golf cart is child endangerment, and a social worker has the right to remove that child to a foster home and ask questions later. The parents would then be under a microscope.
Because the grandparent knew about the situation and did not report it to the authorities, the grandparents would probably not be considered safe guardians for that child, and the child would be placed with strangers until the parents finish court-ordered parenting classes.
Foster children are big business. It's a totally different climate than it was in the days when only severely neglected and abused children found their way into foster care.
I speak from 17 years of experience as a foster parent and 30 years as a psychiatric nurse who has seen what hoops families must jump through to get their children back once child protective services is involved. -- READER IN FERRIS, TEXAS
DEAR ABBY: An elderly lady here was killed in a hit-and-run golf cart accident while picking up her mail. The driver was a child. I hope this will serve as a wake-up call to the Florida child's irresponsible parents. -- JULIE S., ANN ARBOR, MICH.
DEAR ABBY: I am a registered nurse who works with brain-injured adults. That grandmother has every right to be concerned. I recently cared for a gentleman who sustained a serious head injury falling out of a golf cart. He remains very confused and unable to care for himself. The lifelong consequences of head injuries can be devastating -- not only to the victim, but also to their families. -- R.N. IN MILFORD, N.H.
DEAR ABBY: My son was 6 when he drove a golf cart into a utility pole. Because of the laws of inertia, his little body was not heavy enough to hold him to the seat of the vehicle. He was airlifted to the trauma center for the life-threatening injuries he received to his spleen, liver and pancreas. It was horrible. I nearly lost him. Please, Abby, urge those parents to move the kid out of the driver's seat. -- SARA IN FREDERICKSBURG, VA.