Head trauma is among the most commonly reported injury associated with electronic scooters, according to the findings of a new study by federal health officials, which indicates that many of the e-scooter injuries could be prevented if riders wore helmets and were more careful around surrounding vehicles.
In a study presented this week, researchers with the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that head injuries accounted for nearly half of all electric scooter-related accidents, posing an emerging health concern.
Similar to bike-sharing services, scooter rentals like Bird, Lime and Spin are increasingly popular among city residents, allowing individuals to easily use ana electric scooters for quick transportation, through an app that allows the rental after the rider scans their driver’s license to confirm they are at least 18 years old.
Since scooter ride services became popular in almost every major city in the U.S. over the last two years, concerns have grown about the injury risk posed by electronic scooter accidents, with some saying the devices are not as safe as bicycles due to their instability, shorter wheelbases and smaller wheels that may make riders vulnerable to imperfections in concrete or pavement.
Hundreds of electronic scooter injury reports have surfaced, including a number of traumatic brain juries, fractures and deaths nationwide. As a result of these growing incidents, the CDC initiated a nationwide electric scooter safety study earlier this year.
The results of this study show a sharp increase in the amount of emergency room visits involving electric scooter injuries. Researchers discovered 45% of all emergency room scooter-related injuries involved head trauma due to the rider failing to wear a helmet.
Second to head trauma, researchers found 27% of injuries related to upper extremity fractures followed by 12% experiencing lower extremity fractures. Approximately 29% of the injured riders self-reported being a first time rider. According to the study, approximately 14.3 injuries requiring emergency room treatment occurred every 100,000 trips on e-scooters.
The vast majority of the injuries occurred on public roadways, raising questions about why some scooter rental companies provide pre-ride instructions to only operate the devices on roadways, and not on public sidewalks. According to the study, 18% of the scooter accidents involving other motor vehicles on public roadways, while other occurred from roadway imperfections causing the scooters to flip over from hitting uneven surfaces.
Along with roadway imperfections, and other possible hazards, the scooters are able to reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, which have shown to cause serious injuries, especially when riders are not properly equipped with safety gear.
As a result of growing injury reports and concerns, several lawsuits have been filed against rental scooter companies, including an electric scooter class-action lawsuit was filed on behalf of eight plaintiffs in the Los Angeles Superior Court in October 2018, claiming the scooters are being put on the streets nationwide without adequate risk warnings, instructions or safety measures. The complaint names Bird, Lime, as well as the scooter manufacturers Segway and Xiaomi, as defendants.
The CDC presented the study’s finding on Thursday at the Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in Atlanta, Georgia. The findings of the new transportation epidemic were to be discussed to help determine the most severe risk factors related to the scooters.