E-scooters can cause way more than a few scrapes and bruises.
A UC Los Angeles study from last month looked at two Southern California hospitals and the number of electric scooter injuries reported there for about a year. It totaled 250 people sent to the ER and 100 with head injuries. Now Consumer Reports has found throughout the country more than 1,500 scooter-related injuries that can be blamed on the two-wheeled vehicles.
In a report released this week looking at e-scooter crashes since the end of 2017 when the motorized scooters started arriving en masse, CR found 1,545 patients treated for scooter-related injuries. This number was determined by contacting 110 hospitals and five transportation agencies. Sixty medical centers and other police, city, and transportation agencies responded. All cities had a major e-scooter-sharing company like Lime or Bird introduced to the area in the past year.
The publication conceded this isn’t a complete picture of scooter-sharing and crashes.
“CR’s analysis is limited, to be sure. Without average trip lengths in each city, for example, it’s impossible to calculate the rate of incidents,” the report read.
Insurance and risk management specialist Thom Rickert at Argo Group emphasized that comparing scooter crashes to motorcycle or bicycles crashes is too early and not a fair match-up. If you take CR‘s limited number of injuries reported, it’s nothing compared to the millions of trips on the e-scooters.
In a $310 million funding announcement Wednesday, Lime said it counted 34 million trips on its scooters. Bird back in September reported 10 million rides.
Paul Steely White, Bird director of safety policy and advocacy, said in an email last month in response to the UCLA injury study, “it fails to take into account the sheer number of e-scooter trips taken—the number of injuries reported would amount to a fraction of one percent of the total number of e-scooter rides.”
Rickert predicts if scooter injury data continues to show more and more skull fractures, bleeding brains, and broken shoulders, “people will be afraid to use them.”
That’s why companies like Lime and Bird continue to emphasize their safety campaigns and helmet giveaways. But as New York City looks into the possibility of e-scooters in the city, the more injuries reported won’t help persuade politicians, residents, and other critics worried about the dangers of scooting.
Ultimately, “the person riding it has to take responsibility for their own safety,” Rickert said. So put on a helmet.