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E-scooter safety concerns

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October 17, 2018 Firm News

More communities are raising e-scooter safety concerns as number of scooters increases

As the number of rental scooters continues to rise in cities and towns across the country, officials are raising e-scooter safety concerns. From minor injuries to deaths, e-scooters have become a public health concern nationwide.

Tracking injuries

In San Francisco, for example, doctors at a local hospital have noted an increase in scooter-related injuries over the past few years. A team of trauma specialists at San Francisco General Hospital have met to discuss the impact of rental scooters on their patients, and they have plans to gather data on the number of injuries.

The hospital’s emergency room chief, Dr. Chris Colwell, reported to The New York Times that:

“I’m quite confident that we were seeing five to 10 injuries from this a week, and I’m probably underestimating that. We saw one or zero a month before the increase in electric scooters.”

His colleague, trauma surgeon Dr. Catherine Juilliard, reports that scooter-related injuries range from scrapes and cuts to severe head trauma. The hospital’s committee will develop a system for gathering and tracking the data, which will include details on helmet usage, various e-vehicle types (scooters, bikes, Segways and more). The team is working alongside law enforcement to review existing records while also gathering information on new patient cases.

In Salt Lake City, medical providers have seen a 161 percent increase in ER visits since e-scooters arrived in the city in June. Hospital officials reported to The Washington Post that:

…nearly half of this year’s injuries were fractures and dislocations of ankles, wrists, elbows and shoulders, as well as several cases of sprains and lacerations. Emergency physicians also treated several head injuries, and multiple patients told doctors they were intoxicated and not wearing a helmet when they were injured.”

Public health concern

The Post added:

“In seven cities, those physicians are regularly seeing ‘severe’ injuries — including head traumas — that were sustained from scooters malfunctioning or flipping over on uneven surfaces, as well as riders being hit by cars or colliding with pedestrians.”

That increase in injuries, especially serious head trauma, raises real concerns for communities’ public health and medical providers. While the scooters provide convenient, local transportation, initial reports highlight some of the dangers involved with the e-scooter trend.

These e-scooter accidents and injuries come on the heels of other personal motorized vehicle accidents. In 2015, the National Institutes of Health even issued a case report on injuries related to Segway use. Segways are motorized two-wheel vehicles for rent in several places around the country. The owner of the company himself died in a Segway accident when he drove the vehicle over a cliff.  

Scooter company response

One of the largest e-scooter rental providers, Bird, has responded to concerns in a variety of ways. Related to the Salt Lake City hospital injury data, a company spokesperson said that officials should be more concerned at the number of car accidents, injuries and deaths.

The company’s founder, Travis VanderZanden, even told The New York Times:

“We’re not going to be happy until there are more Birds [e-scooters] than cars.”

The company has also tried to position itself as a public safety partner to city officials, and it launched a platform to help government entities manage the adoption of e-scooters. However, the platform only works with Bird scooters; not scooters from other companies like Lime and Skip.

Bird also attempted to spearhead a safety pledge to create alignment between the various scooter companies, but had trouble garnering support from its competitors.

Final thoughts

With this new trend, we see a lot more questions and answers at this point. In our 10 years representing people injured in serious accidents, we know accidents involving any types of vehicles can have tragic and life-changing consequences. Our concern remains the safety of Colorado residents, and we are committed to providing top-notch legal representation to anyone injured in an e-scooter accident here.

If you have been injured in an accident with a scooter or any similar vehicle, contact us for a free case evaluation.