CPSC Warns of Rising Injuries, Deaths Linked to E-Scooters, Hoverboards and other Micromobility Devices
As popularity increases throughout the U.S. for personally owned or rented electric micromobility devices, such as hoverboards and e-scooters, federal safety officials indicate that injuries and deaths from these devices have skyrocketed in recent years.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a report earlier this month, titled “Micromobility Products-Related Deaths, Injuries, and Hazard Patterns”, which warns that there has been a 127% increase in hospitalizations caused by e-bikes, hoverboards and e-scooters crashes between 2017 and 2021.
The CPSC highlights several concerns surrounding the safety of e-scooters, hoverboards and other micromobility devices, which are often involved in the most severe injuries, since they are often operated without proper safety equipment. The agency also highlights problems linked to the improper handling of the lithium-ion batteries that power the electric vehicles, indicating that there have been thousands of e-scooter and hoverboard fires throughout the U.S. in recent years.
Micromobility Devices Linked To 267,700 ER Visits
In the report, officials gathered the latest available statistics on injury estimates, fatalities, and hazard patterns associated with e-scooters, hoverboards, and e-bikes. For all of the micromobility devices, the agency estimated a total of 267,700 emergency department visits occurred in 2021, representing a sharp increase from prior years.
Of all of the emergency department visits recorded, 117,600 were caused by personally owned or rented e-scooter crashes. CPSC researchers also found the rate of emergency department visits from e-scooters drastically increased, rising from 7,700 in 2017 to 42,200 in 2021. E-scooters were the most common cause of micromobility-related ER visits.
Officials found hoverboards were the second most common cause of micromobility related emergency department visits, with 121,300 reports. However, the report noted a 15% reduction in treatments between 2020 and 2021.
Lastly, e-bikes accounted for 11 percent of the overall micromobility injury estimates. However, comprehensive data was not available through the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to determine exact figures.
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The agency performed 207 in-depth follow up investigations to identify patterns or common causes of injury, of which 48 involved an e-scooter, 148 involved a hoverboard, and 11 involved an e-bike. Researchers found braking problems with e-scooters and e-bikes were very common causes, while fire hazards were the most common cause of hoverboard injuries.
These lithium-ion fire risks were highlighted in a CPSC press release issued this week, which falls in the middle of the agency’s National Fire Prevention Week currently running from October 9 through 15. The release provided several recommendations to prevent batteries of micromobility devices from catching on fire including always being present when the batteries are charge quickly detect smoldering, only use a charger that came with the battery, only use approved replacement battery packs and to always follow the manufacturer’s instructions manual for battery maintenance.
E-Scooter Accidents Require Greater Oversight and Regulation
The CPSC report follows a recommendations issued last week by the Transportation Research Board, which calls for State Highway Safety Offices and policymakers to implement a series of regulatory, infrastructure and educational awareness efforts to keep millions of e-scooter riders safe.
That report indicated the availability of e-scooter rentals has nearly doubled between 2019 and 2021, and the rate of injuries and deaths have steadily increased with the popularity. The report cited a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), which found e-scooter injuries increased by more than 500% from 2014 to 2019, rising from 1.53 hospitalizations per 100,000 population in 2014 to 9.22 per 100,000 population in 2019.
In addition to injuries and fatalities linked to e-scooters, the report outlined concerns regarding inexperienced or reckless driving of e-scooters, and improper parking of e-scooters, which create risks not only for other e-scooter riders, but for pedestrians, older adults or those in wheelchairs. Researchers determined the drastic increase in use over such a small timeframe has caused struggles for city leaders to implement a universal set of regulations or for law enforcement agencies to properly regulate unsafe actions.
E-Scooter Crash Injury Warnings
U.S. safety officials have issued several e-scooter warnings over the last few years, encouraging riders to use protective equipment, such as helmets and hand or wrist guards, and to avoid riskier maneuvers or traveling at high speeds on the devices.
In September 2020, the CPSC released a micromobility device hazards and injury report indicating more than 132,000 injuries were reported between 2017 and 2019 for all micromobility devices, including electric scooters, hoverboards, and e-bikes.
The warnings come in the wake of several e-scooter deaths reported in recent years, including a Washington, DC, resident who was dragged more than a dozen yards by an SUV that struck and pinned him and the Lime electric scooter he was riding in 2018. The death of a 24-year old Dallas resident occurred around the same time after he fell off of a scooter on his way home from work.
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