“These scooters should not be available to the public,” says a man who was injured on an e-scooter in Los Angeles. “Those things are like a death wish.”
The 26-year-old was riding an e-scooter across a downtown street when a car traveling at 50 mph hit him. He was hurled 15 feet into the air. He broke two bones in each leg, including a thigh bone, along with three neck vertebrae. He also punctured a lung and sustained a head injury. He wasn’t wearing a helmet, and most e-scooter rentals don’t include one.
Hartford may not be cluttered with rentable e-scooters yet, but over 100 cities are now hosting the rentals on their streets, like it or not. With summer coming, people will be riding e-scooters more and more often, whether through rental services or buying a personal model.
The scooters are much like a skateboard with a handle, but an electronic motor allows them to travel up to 15 mph. The rental versions cost about $1 to unlock and approximately 15 cents per minute to operate. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Americans rode them 38.5 million times last year.
They can also be quite dangerous. The Associated Press says there are no good statistics on how many people have been injured riding e-scooters, but the agency found media reports of 11 deaths last year in the U.S. alone.
The city of Austin, Texas, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have been gathering injury statistics. In just three months last year, they counted 192 e-scooter injuries. Of those, nearly half were head injuries — and 15% were traumatic brain injuries.
One reason is that an e-scooter can bring untrained, virtually unprotected riders into traffic, putting them at risk of collision with a car. As we mentioned before, another reason is that rented e-scooters typically don’t come with helmets, and few people bring their own. Only about 1% of riders in the Austin study were wearing helmets.
The two largest e-scooter rental companies, Lime and Bird, have handed out thousands of helmets for free and encourage riders to use them. Yet they argue that a helmet requirement would be off-putting and might result in fewer users. They contend that the more e-scooter users, the better; large numbers of riders force pedestrians and drivers to pay attention.
These devices often appear on city streets with little to no regulatory oversight. They may be defective or poorly maintained. Inexperienced riders may find them difficult to control, and lack of protective gear only adds to the risk. If you are injured riding an e-scooter, discuss your situation with an experienced personal injury attorney.