Electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, are becoming more and more popular in cities all around the country. Nashville, Memphis, and Jackson are no exception. As the e-scooter phenomenon continues to grow in Tennessee, lawmakers are being forced to find ways to keep riders safe in their cities, towns, and municipalities. People of all ages are using these scooters as an alternative to driving, using a cab, using public transportation, or using a rideshare service to get to and from their destinations.
All of this is well and good, but that does not mean it is safe.
It should come as no surprise that e-scooters are proving to be more dangerous than walking or riding a bike. According to a report from the Washington Post, more people went to the emergency room in Los Angeles over the period of one year for injuries caused by e-scooters than for injuries caused by riding a bicycle or walking on foot. The data was revealed via a study by JAMA Network Open, and it found that many of the injuries suffered were serious.
What the study found
The study took place between September 2017 and August 2018. There were 249 patients treated for scooter injuries and of those 249 cases, 28% suffered lacerations, sprains, and contusions. Close to 30% of the patients suffered fractures and a little more than 40% suffered head injuries. A total of fifteen patients wound up being admitted to the hospitals, and two patients were admitted to intensive care.
During the same time period the study identified only 195 patients were admitted into the hospital for injuries caused while riding a bicycle and 181 patients for injuries suffered while walking. The authors of the study said the following:
“The Riders share roads with fast-moving vehicular traffic but appear to underestimate hazards; we found that 94.3% of observed riders in our community were not wearing a helmet. While riders of electric scooters in California are required to be at least 16 years old by state law and 18 years old by company rental agreements, we found that 10.8% of electric scooter injuries were in patients younger than 18 years. Although California law required helmet use while operating electric scooters during the entire study period, only 4.4% of injured scooter riders were documented to be wearing a helmet” (emphasis ours).
The use of a helmet
Not surprising, the biggest culprit of most emergency room visits for e-scooter riders is failure to wear a helmet. Even if cities and municipalities were to write local laws requiring the use of a helmet when riding an e-scooter, it likely wouldn’t curb the head injuries suffered by riders. E-scooters have become so popular because of their ease of use. It’s highly unlikely that people would begin carrying a helmet around in anticipation of coming across and riding a scooter at some point during their day.
The more likely scenario is for companies to begin providing headgear with their scooters. There is the fear though that riders might contract head lice by sharing a helmet, which can be avoided by companies providing disposable liners for the helmets. These disposable liners could be installed at e-scooter kiosks or in stores near kiosks that partner with e-scooter companies.
The dangers of sidewalk riding
The majority of e-scooter riders operate the scooter on the sidewalk. Why? It’s safer for them instead of riding in a designated bike lane or on the shoulder of city streets where they can easily be hit by a car or truck. It is dangerous to ride on the sidewalk, especially for pedestrians, as many e-scooter riders fail to follow city restrictions. This could be resolved with sensors that prevent scooters from jumping the curb onto the sidewalk and would permit scooter rides to end only in a parking area that has been previously designated.
Have you suffered an injury while riding an e-scooter in Tennessee? If so, it’s important that you protect your rights by speaking with a Memphis personal injury attorney who understand how to help. Call the office of Bailey & Greer, PLLC today at 901-475-7434 or complete the contact form, and schedule your consultation today. We proudly assist clients in Memphis, Jackson, and throughout West Tennessee.