Electric Scooter Dangers Prompt Investigation

Stephen M. Smith
Last Updated:
December 2, 2019

Increasing numbers of electric scooters are appearing in American cities.  The spike in scooters is linked to a rise in admissions to emergency rooms.

Mounting concerns over electric scooters led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to announce a probe into scooter-related crashes and injuries in March. The first study into the issue will consider how these accidents can be prevented.

Details of injuries caused by scooters are emerging as they flood cities across the United States.

What Are Dockless Electric Scooters?

Dockless electric scooters have appeared in American cities over the last 18 months. The compact electric two-wheelers are leading what researchers call the "micro-mobility revolution."

The scooters can be picked up via an app and left on the streets. You pay for the time you use them. The model has parallels with that of Uber and Lyft. The scooter companies are targeting city drivers who make short commutes on crowded streets and may be tempted to use a scooter or a bike-share instead.

Dockless Scooters Appear in Hampton Roads

In Norfolk, the scooter company Bird flooded the city with electric machines last year. The city impounded 523 scooters and charged Bird $35 each and an additional $5 for every day in storage, according to media reports.

Earlier this year Jessica Dennis, a management analyst for the city, recommended a year trial with a scooter vendor. Cities such as Baltimore and Austin entered similar trials. The scooters are legal in certain parts of Virginia Beach.

Other cities have progressed further down the dockless scooter use. CNN reported as many as 14,000 dockless electric scooters are now found in Austin, the capital of Texas. It is one of the cities with the highest scooter-to-people ratio in the nation. There are 10 operators in Austin including Lime and Bird.

What Are the Dangers of Electric Scooters?

As more people use scooters, the rate of deaths and injuries has risen. Austin's first scooter-related death was reported in January. Police said Mark Sands, a 21-year-old University of Texas student died just one day after suffering critical injuries when the electric scooter he was riding on was hit by a car.

Two people died in the span of a week in electric scooter crashes in California, prompting new safety concerns.

A 53-year-old man lost control and hit a tree in San Diego. The victim was not wearing a helmet. He was riding on the sidewalk. Police said he suffered serious head injuries.

A 41-year-old man riding on an electric scooter died in Santa Monica in March when he slipped off a scooter and was hit by a car.

Many injuries were reported in Sacramento where the Jump bike and scooter company introduced 100 motor-assisted rental scooters.

The first electric scooter casualties were reported in 2018 in Dallas and Washington D.C.

Concerns about injuries in Austin led to the CDC study, the first by a federal agency into electric scooters.

The scooter study began in December when three CDC epidemiologists spent 14 days in the Texas capital. They looked at incidents and scooter-related injuries over a two-month period from September to November. The team spoke to 258 people who visited emergency rooms with a scooter-related injury. Findings from the study may have far-reaching effects as cities across the country grapple with reports of injuries from these e-scooters.

The Austin study will provide a baseline for others. CNN reported that the first published study examining injuries on dockless scooters was released in January in JAMA Network Open, a peer-reviewed medical journal.

UCLA looked more closely at 249 injured patients (228 scooter riders and 21 pedestrians). The team found head injuries and fractures were the most common injuries suffered on scooters. About 80 percent of riders were hurt in falls, 11 percent collided with an object, and almost 9 percent were struck by moving vehicles. A mere 4 percent of the injured riders wore helmets and about 5 percent were drunk.

Liability for an Electric Scooter Injury in Virginia

Virginia’s cities are further behind places like Austin, Seattle, and San Diego in the electric scooter revolution but dockless scooters arrived in Norfolk, Richmond, and Virginia Beach. We are likely to see more and more over the next 12 months.

Many drivers are not familiar with electric scooters on the streets. They fail to slow down or give these riders enough space. At the same time, many scooter riders are inexperienced at handling these machines.

A driver who causes an injury or a death may be held liable in a lawsuit. The scooter company may be sued over a defect. Many of these scooters are dropped on the streets and sidewalks where they are vulnerable to vandals. Companies like Bird and Lime are obligated to repair and maintain their scooters.

Call a Virginia Injury Lawyer over Scooter Rider Injuries

Some of the injuries associated with scooter accidents are terrible. Riders are vulnerable on these machines and are often inexperienced. Many of them suffer serious head injuries. If you or a family member has been injured in a scooter crash, please call our Virginia injury lawyers today for a free consultation at (757) 244-7000.

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