Seven Tips for Electric Scooter Safety
Electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, have grown in popularity in the U.S., especially with the explosion of shared electric scooter services such as Bird and Lime. These companies have brought e-scooters to many major U.S. cities, such as Los Angeles, Atlanta, San Francisco, as well as international cities.
According to a report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials, riders took 38.5 million trips on e-scooters in 2018. That number is in comparison to the 36.5 million trips riders took on shared, docked bicycles in that same year. In total, riders took 84 million trips on e-scooters in 2018. That’s more than double the trips made in 2017. And, there are more e-scooters for rent (85,000) than there are station-based bikes (57,000).
With growing popularity comes questions about safety. In February 2019, a University of Texas in Austin student died after his scooter crashed into a car. Here are statistics from several recent studies on injuries sustained in scooter crashes:
- The city of Austin, Texas and the CDC found a disproportionate amount of head injuries (which comprised of nearly half of all injuries) and a high number of bone fractures.
- A Rutgers University study found that scooter-related head and facial injuries increased three times over 10 years, from 2008 to 2018.
- A University of Southern California study found that from August 2017 to September 2018, at two UCLA ER rooms, there were 249 scooter collision-related ER visits. Most injuries resulted from collisions with objects or vehicles.
- The Portland Bureau of Transportation found that between July 25 and November 20, 2018, there was a total of 176 also researched scooter-related injuries, which is fewer than the number of bicycle-related injuries during that same period.
So, if you’re going to ride an electric scooter, what can you do to stay safe? Laura Adams, Safety and Education Analyst for DriversEd.com, says, “Remember that many drivers of electric scooters may be tourists who are unfamiliar with roads and local regulations. Drivers of vehicles need to give them plenty of room. And scooter drivers should always ride with the flow of traffic and obey all traffic signs.”
Here are seven tips scooter operators should follow to enjoy safer rides.
- Wear a helmet. From that same USC study, only about four percent of injured scooter users wore a helmet. It’s an easy way to prevent head injuries, just as wearing helmets while riding motorcycles has been proven to reduce fatalities and major head injuries.
- Wear other protective gear. Just like as you would for riding a skateboard, wear knee pads, elbow pads, and wrist guards. Also, no open-toed shoes — wear closed-toe shoes to protect your feet.
- Don’t operate under the influence. An e-scooter is like any other vehicle. Operate it sober or find another way to get to your destination.
- Take it slowly. For your first ride, start slowly and take test rides. It can take time to learn how to operate a scooter’s brake and accelerator.
- Get training. The same Austin and CDC study reported that most respondents said they received training from the scooter rental company’s app. Consider taking a scooter safety class.
- Be alert. Remember that you’re sharing the roadways with vehicles, pedestrians, and cyclists. So, keep your head up and your ears open.
- Follow local traffic laws. Depending on where you live, there may or may not be laws for e-scooters. Research the rules ahead of time and ride accordingly.
If you drive in a city with electric scooters, stay aware of scooter operators who may or may not be observing local traffic laws. They may be unsure of their surroundings or distracted by a smartphone. So, use similar driving techniques as you would use for driving near a motorcyclist or bicyclist — give them plenty of room and drive cautiously.
E-scooters may be fun to ride and convenient to use, but they’re still vehicles to handle wisely and responsibly. If you follow the above tips, you’ll reduce your chances of getting into an accident and be safer on the roads.