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Bird, Lime Electric Scooter Injuries Are Mounting Nationwide, With Few Users Wearing Helmets: Study

As ride-sharing electric scooter services have emerged throughout the United States, a new report indicates that many riders are not adhering to safety regulations, indicating that failure to wear helmets are contributing to severe trauma and fracture injuries that have required hospitalization. 

In a study published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers warn that standing electronic scooter services, such as Bird and Lime, present a new injury risk nationwide, and that many of the most severe injuries and hospitalizations involve minors.

Similar to bike-sharing services, scooter services like Lime, Bird and Lime are increasingly popular among city residents, allowing individuals to easily rent electric scooters for quick transportation, using an app that allows you to scan in your driver’s license to confirm the rider is at least 18 years old. However, reports have found people under the age of 18 are still finding a way to use the scooters, and not wearing helmets.

The newly released data involved a review of 249 patients injured on electronic scooters from September 1, 2017 through August 31, 2018, at two urban emergency departments associated with an academic medical center in Southern California.

More than 10 percent of the cases reviewed involved injuries among riders younger than 18 years of age, with much of the entire population’s injuries arising from failing to adhere to rules of wearing a helmet.

Of the 249 emergency room visits recorded, approximately 31.7 percent of patients were treated for fractures, 40.2 percent were treated for head injuries and trauma, and another 27.7 percent were treated for contusions, sprains, and lacerations without fracture or head injury.

The most common causes of the injuries were the result of falling off of the scooters (80.2 percent), collision with an object (11 percent) and being hit by a moving vehicle or object (8.8 percent). Researchers found only 10 riders were documented as wearing helmets at the time of their crash, and nearly five percent of the population were documented as intoxicated at the time of their crash on the electronic scooter.

There are growing concerns over the electronic scooter injury risks in cities nationwide, as the devices are not as safe as bicycles due to their instability, shorter wheelbases and smaller wheels, which may make riders vulnerable to imperfections in concrete or pavement. Along with roadway imperfections, and other possible hazards, the scooters are able to reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour, which could cause serious injuries, especially when riders are not properly equipped with safety gear.

Since scooter ride services became popular among almost every major city in the U.S. within the last two years, hundreds of electronic scooter injury reports have surfaced, including a number of deaths nationwide.

Although riders are warned to wear helmets and take certain precautions, some have claimed the companies are negligent in failing to properly maintain the electronic scooter. Several lawsuits have been filed against the rental companies, including claims that the devices are poorly maintained, and that service agreements releasing the companies from legal liability are not enforceable.

Numerous lawsuits have been filed against scooter manufacturers including one electric scooter class-action lawsuit, accusing them of gross negligence and that 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.

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