Go Karting Safety
Go-karting is an extremely popular activity amongst people of all age groups. Like any sport which involves people travelling at speed and in close proximity to each other, there is always an element of risk and danger to consider but it should be a reasonably safe sport to undertake providing that people understand the rules and their own limitations.
Types of go-karting can differ. In some cases, your local town may have a go-karting track where, although safety is still a major issue, these types of track are aimed more at people who are generally looking upon their visit as a fun day out. They do not need to have any prior experience nor need to wear any real protective clothing, apart from a helmet which is often provided anyway, and these are the types of tracks that are popular with groups like stag parties and groups of children who like to go in the school holidays etc.
Then, there is the ‘serious’ sport of go-karting where rules and regulations, especially with regards to safety need to be adhered to even more stringently and advice here is more aimed towards that level of karting.
Clothing and Protective EquipmentYou must always wear a helmet. That’s the first priority. If you’re competing in a race, you need to be wearing a fire protective suit, gloves and the right kind of racing shoes. Both gloves and shoes also need to be fire retardant. And wearing a seatbelt or other kind of safety harness is mandatory.
Being BriefedYou’ll be briefed on the dos and don’ts even at your local go-karting centre for safety reasons but in higher levels of competition, the extent to which you’re briefed will be far more intense. The briefings will include things like where the position of lights and flags will be. Flags have an adopted uniform colour code which all drivers must be familiar with and must understand what each colour means and how they must respond to any signals they are given.
In some instances, they’ll need to slow down or stop altogether because there has been an accident or some other kind of incident further along the track. A different flag may indicate that a driver needs to pull out of the race immediately because they have been disqualified for contravening racing rules and even compromising other drivers’ safety.
Depending on the circuit, the briefing may take place out on the circuit itself or by video instruction and many would point to using a combination of both methods to get the message across more effectively. A video will give you a much broader overview by being filmed at different angles and heights whilst a trackside briefing and even walking the track whilst being briefed will enable you to get a real sense of the shape and outline of the track, where the marshals will be and will give you a better visual outlay of what you’ll have to face.
No AlcoholIt shouldn’t really be necessary to include this paragraph, but it goes without saying that alcohol cannot be consumed before a race is to take place. That would be an immediate cause for disqualification. Even your local fun karting track will more than likely have strict rules in place about this too.
Fire RisksGo-karts do not carry a large volume of petrol but they still carry enough to cause a serious fire risk should they crash into another kart or come off the track and take a heavy impact from safety crash barriers. Therefore, not only does the fire protection clothing become a necessity, it’s also important that fire personnel are placed around the track and can get to any incident quickly to put out a fire and there should also be medical staff present to treat any casualty or to carry out routine medical checks on a driver that has been involved in an incident.
The bottom line is that you should never compromise on safety or put yourself or other drivers at risk. No matter how good a driver you are and how professional you might take the sport, remember that not everybody around you on the track might be as competent or, more importantly, as professional in their approach to safety issues as you so it has to be an issue of paramount importance.