A new innovation in personal mobility allows urban dwellers to get around easier, and it’s almost better than walking.
Even in the age of Uber and Lyft for a quick ride, electric scooters are even better for faster short-distance trips. But that doesn’t mean that they’re any safer. Consider that you’re riding on a narrow plank with handlebars and wheels through crowded city streets in vehicular traffic that may or may not be paying attention.
What Are They, And How Do They Work?
Riders rent a scooter at a designated spot, ride to where they want, and leave it there. Companies pick up the scooters during the evening and re-charge them overnight.
These cute dockless e-scooters are small, and can reach a top speed of 15 to 20 mph. They’re rentable through a smartphone app, cost $1 to unlock and .15 a minute to ride, with a maximum of about $10 an hour. Most riders won’t be on them that long, so they’re also economical.
Bird scooters have been in Brooklyn for some time, even though they were there illegally. In many cases, the companies literally drop them on city streets and wait for people to rent them without getting permission from city officials first.
E-Scooter Accident Injuries
Shortly after Elizabeth, New Jersey legalized e-scooters, a rider was killed in a collision with a tow truck while riding a Lime scooter. While Lime and Bird electric scooters can be enjoyable, they aren’t without dangers. After multiple reports of injuries, Seattle banned the e-scooters until further notice.
Most riders don’t wear helmets, despite the safety warning when they unlock the scooter. Helmet free riding can lead to a series of accidents during their little trips, many of them severe. People who crash on an e-scooter tend to have the same types of injuries as bicyclists and pedestrians:
- Broken bones
- Facial injuries, including broken noses and jaw fractures
- Neck and spine injuries
- Head injuries, including severe injuries like skull fractures and concussions
Riders as well as pedestrians and bystanders have been injured, most frequently on their first ride.
E-Scooter Accident Crash Statistics
While is no shortage of anecdotal reports of injuries in news agencies, there are two legitimate sources of information on the subject. These two studies quantify the danger that these little scooters can unleash on unsuspecting riders.
Last year, the City of Austin Texas released the report from the Austin Public Health (APH) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) detailing their study of e-scooter accidents in the city. There were 271 individuals interviewed, and the following injuries were reported:
- Head injuries, 48%
- Upper limb injury, 70% (hand/arm/elbow/shoulder)
- Lower limb injury, 55% (foot/ankle/leg/knee)
- Chest/abdomen injury, 18%
Thirty five percent of the injured suffered bone fractures, and 19% had them in multiple body regions with a high number of arm and leg injuries. Many of these riders suffered injuries in multiple areas of the body.
A similar study in Los Angeles found that out of 249 patients that visited one of two emergency rooms for injuries sustained while riding an e-scooter, the most common were:
- Fractures (31.7%)
- Head injuries (40.2%)
- Soft-tissue injuries (27.7%)
Ten percent of the patients were under the age of 18, four percent were wearing a helmet at the time of their accidents, and four percent (12 riders) had either blood alcohol contents (BAC) greater than .05%, or the treating physician believed them to be inebriated.
E-Scooters Are Not Yet Legal In New York
Even though you can’t ride them in New York, you may visit other cities where e-scooters abound. It’s important to exercise caution if you decide to ride one, and follow all safety rules.
Despite the support from the scooter companies, late last year,New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vetoed a bill that would have allowed e-scooters throughout the state of New York. Although he is an advocate for alternative transit and personal mobility, his main concerns were for public safety and the lack of a helmet requirement. Governor Cuomo’s reasoning for the end-of-year veto was to prevent the legislature from modifying the bill and overriding the veto. This means that the process must start from the beginning and go back through the legislature again to be considered.
Since these electric scooters are motorized vehicles, they would be subjected to the same rules as every other motorized vehicle, including electric bicycles (which are still illegal in NYC), balance boards and skateboards. The e-scooters would also directly compete with the city’s bike sharing program, implemented with considerable support from the government.
There is also the question of where the scooters would ride. They can’t ride on sidewalks, and putting them in bike lanes means that bicyclists compete with motorized vehicles that buzz past them as fast as 20 mph. Additionally, they are more difficult to see than bicycles, giving them a higher chance of crashes.
Accident With An Electric Scooter? Call Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier
If you’ve been in an accident on an e-scooter, or an accident anywhere in New York, call us a call today for a free consultation at (212) 777-9400. Hoffmaier & Hoffmaier is a family-owned NYC personal injury law firm has more than 26 years’ experience working with injured people to get what they need. Our contingency fee basis means you’ll pay no fees out of pocket. We get paid when you do, whether we settle your case out of court or take it to trial.