Following reports suggesting the rate of electronic scooter injuries increased six-fold last year, federal safety officials have released a series of safety recommendations to help reduce the risk of accidents.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a micromobility device hazards and injury report on September 16, providing new statistics on the popular e-scooter ride sharing services, which indicate more than 132,000 injuries were reported over a two year period, including at least 41 deaths.
Similar to bike-sharing services, short-term scooter rentals are increasingly popular among city residents, allowing individuals to easily use electric scooters for quick transportation through the use of a smartphone app. However, since scooter ride services have become popular in almost every major city in the U.S. over the last four years, concerns have grown about the injury risk posed by electronic scooter accidents.
CPSC researchers reviewed data from the 2019 United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) to pull data on injuries and fatalities related to e-scooter use.
Their findings indicate there were about 133,000 emergency room visits associated with all micromobility products from 2017 through 2019, with electric scooter accounting for much of the increase. Emergency department visits involving e-scooters rose significantly over the three year period, steadily increasing annually from 7,700 in 2017, to 14,500 in 2018, and to 27,700 in 2019.
Among the injuries recorded, head trauma was most frequent, accounting for more than 27%. Half of those injuries resulted in a traumatic brain injury diagnosis such as a head injury with a concomitant diagnosis of a concussion, internal organ injury, fracture, anoxia, or hemorrhage.
Other common e-scooter injuries involved fractures or moderate to severe sprains to the wrists or forearms, usually from riders attempting to catch themselves after falling off of the scooters. Researchers also found soft tissue injuries to various parts of the body were either solely reported or accompanied more severe injuries.
Officials discovered an estimated 71,100 emergency department visits from 2017 through 2019 involving hoverboards, and approximately 9% of the overall injuries during the study period were related to e-bike service products.
Of all micromobility products, annual estimated emergency department visits for 2017, 2018, and 2019, were 34,000, 44,000, and 54,800, indicating consecutive annual increases of injuries.
The CPSC findings indicate fatalities are also on the rise, with a total of 41 fatalities reported. Annual numbers reported were 5, 10, and 26 in 2017, 2018, and 2019, respectively.
Due to the increased rate of e-scooter injuries and deaths, officials released a set of safety tips for riders to follow that includes always wearing a helmet, ensure the brakes are working properly and to always be aware of your surroundings.
Riders are encouraged to never drive the scooters on uneven surfaces, due to their small tires and lightweight design making them prone to tipping or turning over. Quick and abrupt movements should be avoided to prevent possible collisions with pedestrians or vehicles, and never operate the devices under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
Several e-scooter accident deaths have been 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.
While use of e-scooter ride sharing services such as Bird and Lime are significantly down this year due to the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, riders should be cautious when beginning to travel on e-scooters again and always wear protective gear, CPSC experts advise.