Amid increasing popularity nationwide of on-demand scooter services, such as Bird and Lime, a new study suggests there has also been a significant increase in scooter injuries and emergency room visits over the past few years.
In findings published last week in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA), researchers indicate that injuries associated with electronic scooters increased by more than 200% over a four year period, with more than 3,000 rider being admitted to the hospital for injuries.
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 an app. However, since scooter ride services have become 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.
Researchers from the University of California, San Francisco analyzed e-scooter injury data collected by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System (NEISS) from 2014 through 2018, and found injuries grew by 222%, totaling more than 39,000 reports. Researchers also found the number of e-scooter related injuries resulting in emergency department visits went up by 365%, to almost 3,300.
Over the four year period, the largest spike in injuries was found in 2018. In 2017, just over 8,000 e-scooter injuries were recorded, while the following year that number jumped to almost 15,000. The severity of the injuries also increased, according to the findings, with one-third of patients experiencing head trauma injuries.
The most common injuries found during the study period were fractures, which made up 27% of all reports, while contusions, abrasions and lacerations made up the largest category of injures.
Researchers reported 4,658 e-scooter riders were treated for head injuries from in 2018 alone, indicating a need for additional safety measures for electric scooter riders.
A study published earlier this month in The Journal of Bone and Joint Surgery found e-scooter injuries often result in a high-energy trauma, requiring surgery and extended hospital stays.
Researchers reviewed all of the operative orthopedic cases and consults at two trauma centers from September 2017 through August 2019, and found injuries studied were caused by high-energy trauma, due to the riders traveling at high speeds. Thirty-two patients were recorded suffering upper extremity injuries, 42 sustained lower extremity injuries, and one patient reported suffering injuries to both.
Another study published in 2019, by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) highlighted 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.
There are growing concerns over rental scooter injury risks in cities nationwide, as critics say scooters are not as safe as bicycles due to their instability, shorter wheelbases and smaller wheels. Along with roadway imperfections, and other possible hazards, safety officials claim riders are not properly equipped with the right safety gear to protect them.
As a result of growing injury reports and concerns, several lawsuits have been filed against rental scooter companies, claiming the scooters are being put on the streets nationwide without adequate risk warnings, instructions or safety measures. The complaints names Bird, Lime, as well as the scooter manufacturers Segway and Xiaomi, as defendants.