E-Scooters: Their Increasing Popularity Spurs More Rider, Pedestrian Injuries

You may have noticed more people riding electric scooters, or e-scooters, on the streets, sidewalks or in bike lanes on the roadways. E-scooters offer riders a quicker alternative to walking or driving in more traffic-congested areas of cities and neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, e-scooters also increase the likelihood of potentially serious injuries to the e-scooter rider or pedestrians on sidewalks or other off-road locations such as parks and college campuses. Many e-scooters swerve onto the roadways, creating the potential of collisions with moving vehicles.

Charles Jordan, M.D., an orthopedic trauma surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care.

Charles J. Jordan, M.D., orthopedic trauma surgeon with Baptist Health Orthopedic Care, explains that e-scooter riders may not be fully aware of the potential dangers.

“Riders may not be completely respectful of the potential dangers and making sure to have safety as a No. 1 priority,” he said. “That includes riding carefully, riding in places where there are not a lot of pedestrians or motor vehicle traffic, or even the use of helmets can help prevent serious head injuries.”

In October, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) released a new report on injuries from e-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards. From 2017 to 2021, injuries spiked 127 percent to 77,200 for these devices, and the number of deaths rose from 5 to 48. E-scooters had the highest percentage increase in injuries and accounted for 68 deaths in the same time period. “Consumer-owned e-scooters accounted for most ER visits (56 percent), but incidents involving rental e-scooter were not far behind (44 percent),” the CPSC said.

In addition to riders sustaining injuries, Dr. Jordan said he has seen an increase in case of pedestrians getting hit by somebody riding a scooter or tripping over the e-scooters on walkways or sidewalks

“I know there are rules and regulations that are being developed, but there seems to be quite a few e-scooters that are strewn carelessly on sidewalks. I have had people trip over them and fall and sustain injuries.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 16 should not operate or ride on motorized or e-scooters. However, regulations differ across cities or municipalities. Recent studies have found that injuries have increased among young teens riding e-scooters

Dr. Jordan recommends seeking immediate medical attention for injuries that occur while operating an e-scooter, even if they don’t seem serious at first. Serious head injuries, bleeding from severe wounds and sprains or broken bones should be evaluated in the Emergency Room. Bruises, minor cuts and abrasions can be treated in an Urgent Care Center. 

Patients who present with e-scooter injuries should be assessed the same as any patient who presents with crash-related trauma. “I do not think that you can ignore the fact that there is always the potential for severe and life-threatening injuries,” said Dr. Jordan. “The evaluation of someone involved in a scooter-related incident should be no different than any other trauma patient.”

Moreover, long recovery periods can accompany e-scooter injuries, Dr. Jordan emphasized.

“This is a significant issue,” he said. “With these injuries there is a lot of lost productivity that happens. These are not always just one or two-week recovery type injuries. These can take six weeks, three months or longer.”

The following are safety tips for riding e-scooters provided by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Full details for all safety tips can be read here.

  • Wear A Helmet
  • Check For Damage
  • Test The Brakes
  • Alert Others And Be Seen
  • Watch Out For Obstacles
  • Hands On
  • Slow And Steady
  • Ride Solo
  • Avoid Distractions While Riding
  • No Stunts
  • Follow All Manufacturer Directions
  • Report Problems
  • Ride Responsibly For You And Others

It’s also vital for pedestrians to be fully aware of areas where there are e-scooter riders or where there are e-scooters lying on the ground or sidewalks. “The awareness that this is a technology that has caught on quickly, especially in highly populated centers, is something that is huge,” he said. “Just awareness in itself can be a huge contributor toward decreasing the incidence of injuries.”

Healthcare that Cares

With internationally renowned centers of excellence, 12 hospitals, more than 27,000 employees, 4,000 physicians and 200 outpatient centers, urgent care facilities and physician practices spanning across Miami-Dade, Monroe, Broward and Palm Beach counties, Baptist Health is an anchor institution of the South Florida communities we serve.

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