E-scooters are becoming increasingly popular across the United States and riders need to be aware of the dangers involved. These motorized vehicles are a top transportation choice among commuters in Las Vegas and many other urban areas because of their maneuverability, ease of use, and lack of regulation. As many injured victims are finding out, however, convenience comes at a cost.
E-Scooters in the United States
E-scooters were introduced into the United States a few years ago (replacing the e-bikes, which lasted only about a year). E-scooters mount a battery and engine on the frame of the scooter, allowing them to reach speeds between 10 and 20 mph. However, due to their small wheels, they are not safe to ride at top speeds on streets, as even the smallest bumps can cause accidents. According to a University of California, San Diego study, approximately 3.6% of U.S. adults have ridden an e-scooter since 2017 – which is nearly a million American adults. Consequently, the number of e-scooter accidents has tripled over the last decade.
E-scooter injuries run the gamut from broken bones to severe head injuries. That same UC San Diego study examined patients admitted to hospitals from September 2017 to October 2018 looking for trends in e-scooter injuries. The study found that among 103 patients, 42% had broken bones, and 26% had fractures to their faces. Moreover, 18% experienced internal bleeding in the brain. About 98% of those treated were not wearing helmets. This study only tracked hospital visits. Actual e-scooter injury rates are likely much higher.
Alcohol and drug use plays a significant role in e-scooter injury accidents. Of the patients included in the study, a staggering 38% had high blood alcohol content levels, and 31% tested positive for drugs. These troubling trends extend beyond the rider. Impaired e-scooter operators are also a danger to pedestrians. If these vehicles collide with an unprotected person, it can result in severe injuries to both parties.
Maintenance and enforcement of existing rules (lax as they are) are also inconsistent. Even when riders operate their e-scooters safely and correctly, injuries are still common. Riders are injured because the brakes fail to work, or the battery suddenly cuts out. Moreover, e-scooter companies have no way to ensure that only adults operate their vehicles, therefore, a substantial number of injured riders are children.