With the arrival of Spring, electric scooters abound in Providence. Electric scooters, also known as e-scooters, are still new to the downtown scene having only arrived to cities nationwide in 2018. Being in their relative infancy, e-scooters and their safety have not yet been studied extensively. As personal injury lawyers in Providence, we know that like a pedestrian or bicyclist, sharing the road with cars and trucks in such close proximity poses a huge safety risk, especially to riders not protected by a helmet. Although the guidelines outlined in the Providence E-Scooter Pilot Program, include the need for riders to obey traffic laws and encourage riders to wear helmets, plenty of electric scooters can be seen zipping around the city driving recklessly and unfortunately, most riders are not wearing a helmet. Marked by a rise in serious injuries to e-scooter users, especially first-time users, this safety concern was the catalyst for a recent study conducted by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Texas’ Austin Public Health Department to find out why there is such a high prevalence of injuries among electric scooter operators.
What Prompted the Investigation into E-Scooter Injuries?
A considerable rise in emergency room visits for users and pedestrians prompted Austin, Texas city leaders to request an investigation by the CDC into scooter-related crashes and injuries. Seeking alternative modes of transportation in the big city, especially emission-free transportation, Austin residents took to the streets when the e-scooters arrived. Following this, emergency rooms in the area began to notice a large number of visits from electric scooter drivers with broken bones and head injuries. The ER visits included injuries both minor and major, such as a University of Texas student, a star baseball shortstop, that missed his season after he hit a pothole riding an electric scooter tearing his Achilles tendon and requiring surgery. In January 2019, Austin experienced its first scooter related death when a 21-year-old University of Texas student died a day after suffering critical injuries after his electric scooter collided with a car.
High Rate of Injury Among First-Time Electric Scooter Users
The CDC report found an especially high rate of injury among new e-scooter riders, specifically one in three injured riders were hurt on their first trip. Almost half of the hurt riders had head injuries, only one of them was wearing a helmet. As Providence personal injury attorneys, Tapalian Law urges all electric scooter and bicycle riders to wear a helmet to reduce the risk of head injury or brain injury. The most common injuries among scooter riders were broken bones, especially arms, wrists, and legs.
The study, performed among 190 e-scooter riders injured between September and November 2018, claims its findings may be highly underestimated as it only interviewed injured scooter riders who visited a local emergency room. It did not include injured riders who visited a doctor’s office, urgent care facility, or chose not to seek any medical treatment. Not only are scooter operators getting hurt, but pedestrians are getting injured by moving scooters or tripping over scooters left carelessly on the sidewalk. Though the study was confined to emergency room visits in Austin, it led researchers to conclude that more training is needed for e-scooter riders.
Why Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
The main reason e-scooter operators are getting injured so often is inexperience. Lack of experience in novice users, and not following safety rules set out by the scooter companies, creates a great safety risk to both users as well as pedestrians and other cars and trucks on the road. Just like a motor vehicle driver, driving aggressively, speeding, using a cell phone, and driving intoxicated all increase the risk of injury to an electric scooter user. It is extremely risky to operate a scooter without a proper helmet and doing so greatly increases the risk of brain or head injury if a driver is involved in a collision. Poor road conditions like potholes, can contribute to scooter accidents as can adverse weather conditions. Cars, trucks, and SUV’s also pose a risk to e-scooters on the road. Getting hit by a car or side-swiped by a truck, whether accidentally or with negligence, is significantly more dangerous to those riders not wearing a helmet. Pedestrian injuries include tripping over scooters parked or left carelessly on the street and getting hit by moving e-scooters.
What is Being Done to Make Electric Scooters Safer?
As personal injury attorneys in Providence, we are interested to know what the electric scooter companies are doing to increase the safety of their users in Rhode Island and beyond. Providence scooter companies Bird and Lime, both part of the city’s E-Scooter Share Pilot Program, have expressed their commitment to rider and community safety. Companies are doing a variety of things to make operating their e-scooters safer including redesigning features like larger wheels to better handle poorly maintained streets, re-positioning batteries to lower the center of gravity to reduce the risk of flipping forward, and distributing free helmets and/or including a helmet with a sanitary liner on the scooter that can be detached upon rental. Many are also adding additional safety instructions to the company apps to teach users how to safely operate a scooter.
Contact Tapalian Law If You Have Been Injured
If you have been hurt in a scooter accident, hit by a car or truck while riding a scooter, are a pedestrian who has been injured by a careless scooter rider, or received a scooter injury from tripping over an e-scooter left on the sidewalk, seek the advice of a Providence personal injury lawyer at Tapalian Law. Our experienced attorneys have been helping victims of personal injury in Rhode Island and Massachusetts for over 20 years. We focus on helping those hurt in accidents, including car accidents, truck accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip and falls, or work-related accidents, get rightful compensation for their suffering. We offer a free consultation of your personal injury or car accident case and will advise you of the options available to you. With offices in Providence, Warwick, and Seekonk, MA, let us begin helping you today. Call us at 401-552-5000, or contact Injury Attorney David Tapalian online.