E-Scooter Injuries on the Rise

There have been more than 1,500 injuries and four deaths related to electric scooter accidents in the U.S. since late 2017, according to Consumer Reports.

The injuries are blamed in part on the lack of regulations for the devices, which can travel 15 mph or more, as their use increases in downtown areas. Very few riders choose to wear safety helmets.

CR contacted 110 hospitals and five agencies in 47 cities where at least one of the two biggest scooter companies, Bird or Lime, operates. One hospital in Atlanta reported more than 360 injuries, including concussions and various bone fractures.

A separate study by Portland’s Bureau of Transportation found injury rates for e-scooters to be 2.5 per 10,000 trips taken. This compares with .04 per 10,000 trips for bike-sharing in Washington, D.C., according to a different study. Citing data from the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Admin., CR notes that motorcycles and cars had injury rates of .05 and .04 per 10,000 miles traveled, respectively.

The consumer watchdog group says there is no national database for e-scooter accidents and injuries. And cities are struggling to safely integrate the devices into the existing infrastructure.

Usage of e-scooters has spread rapidly—especially among younger people—due to their convenience and low cost ($1 per rental plus 15 cents per minute for Lime). But the scooters don’t come with helmets and riders typically don’t want to carry their own. California recently dropped the state’s helmet requirement for e-scooter riders older than 18.

Lime says it has given 75,000 free helmets to riders around the world. The company, which boasts that customers have taken 26 million rides since the service was launched two years ago, requires users to complete in-app tutorials—including information about helmet safety—before taking their first ride.

Cities also are evaluating the use of dedicated pathways to minimize e-scooters interaction with passenger vehicles.