How dangerous are electric scooters?
Or better yet, shouldn’t we be more careful while using them?by Tudor Rus, on
Electric scooters are popping up in major cities like mushrooms as people are looking for faster and cheaper ways to go around the city. The thing is, these electrically-powered two-wheelers can reach speeds that match or are greater than the legal limit imposed around cities, so you’d think people would be inclined to treat these e-scooters with the proper respect. We’re not saying you should fear them, but respect them and understand how they work and how they can hurt you. Because at 20+ mph, falling off an electric scooter or hitting a pole or getting hit by another car is just the same as if you were riding a bike or a motorcycle. And yes, you could get killed by riding an e-scooter, as it was the unfortunate case of British YouTube star and TV presenter Emily Hartridge, who lost her life after being hit by a truck in a roundabout while riding her e-scooter in south London. According to the Guardian, this is the first fatal collision involving an e-scooter in the UK.
Are electric scooters dangerous? Here’s what a study revealed
A study carried out in Southern California had interesting findings. Over the course of one year (September 1, 2017 and August 31, 2018), 249 patients were brought to the emergency rooms of two UCLA hospitals in Santa Monica and Los Angeles after being involved in accidents while riding an electric scooter. Out of them, 228 were injured as riders, while 21 sustained injuries as non-riders. Also, as a side note, Forbes reports that there were around 65,000 e-scooters roaming America’s streets in February 2019.
The most common injuries were provoked by falling down the scooter (183 riders), followed by injuries resulted after the collision with an object (21 riders), and injuries resulted after being hit by a moving vehicle or object (20 riders).
But here comes the worrying bit: only 10 rides were registered to have been wearing a helmet.
If we are to look at injuries, the most frequently occurring ones were head injuries (100 patients) and fractures (79 patients). Obviously, the study has its limitations, but it also rings some alarm bells. Or at least it should. Just have another look at how many riders sustained head injuries. Each and every one of them has the potential to become fatal. It’s not the same with fractures, but one rider had an open fracture, which, although not fatal, could bring a downpour of mobility and health issues later on.
So, are electric scooters dangerous or are riders ignoring common-sense safety rules?
Well, electric scooters are dangerous but then again, so are knives when used improperly. What we’re really trying to say is that without a solid set of laws and regulations, give the rise of e-scooters, we’re only going to see more and more injuries and, unfortunately, fatalities. Sure, some countries have introduced sets of rules, but are they enough?
Let’s take this into account - in many countries, riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk is forbidden. Sure, that sounds good, the other pedestrians are therefore protected in case something goes wrong. Then again, some of those who ride an e-scooter might not possess a driver’s license and, therefore, have little to zero knowledge about traffic signs and traffic laws. Not to mention the ability to anticipate traffic or the necessary reactions to avoid or get out of a nasty situation.
Long story short, an e-scooter is only as safe as the rider is.
Meaning, cautious is the name of the game. So here are a couple of rules of owning and riding an e-scooter, if you wish. You can thank us later.
You won’t get on a Suzuki Hayabusa as a rookie rider, right? In the same way, having just bagged your driver’s license doesn’t mean you’re apt to drive a manual Porsche 911 GT3. This applies to e-scooters as well. Don’t be quick to buy and ride the fastest, most powerful electric scooter out there. Or if you do, make sure you give yourself time to learn the basics, get accustomed to the controls and the power that sits beneath you. You might also want to limit your riding area to “around the block” at first, in an environment that you know as safe. Let the more experienced rides roam the city for now; you’ll get your chance eventually.
Protection, protection, protection
That means helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads. Because, think about this: falling down while standing still might hurt, but that’s nothing compared to falling off an e-scooter at 20+ mph. Vector in the possibility of hitting other objects while falling while in motion and you’re looking at nasty bruises and potential fractures as part of the best case scenario. Go for certified gear and don’t get cheap when it comes to your own safety. Also, limit riding in the rain as much as possible, instant electric torque and slippery roads are not BFFs.
Use common sense and stick with it
Don’t drink and ride an e-scooter. The eyes are not enough, so try not to listen to the music when riding an e-scooter, as you’ll need all your senses alert to get around. How else are you going to hear other cars, honks, or emergency cars’ sirens? Also make sure the scooter you pick fits your size and weight - a scooter that’s too small or too big will be difficult to control. The same goes for faulty or damaged e-scooters.