Are E-Scooters Dangerous?

Electric scooters, known generally as e-scooters, are a rising craze around the nation. E-scooters are convenient, fast, and trendy, but that does not mean they are safe. As the use of e-scooters increases, lawmakers in Tennessee are struggling to find ways to keep riders safe in their cities, towns, and municipalities. E-scooters have become an alternative to using cabs, public transportation, ride sharing services, and even driving. However, research does not share the same interest in e-scooters. According to the Washington Post, e-scooters have proven to be more dangerous than walking or riding a bike, with more e-scooter injuries in the last year than walking by foot.

E-scooter Current Events

From September 2017 to August 2018, of the 249 patients admitted with e-scooter injuries, 28% of them were serious, including lacerations, sprains, and contusions. This number greatly contrasts with only 195 patients admitted for bicycle injuries, and 181 for walking injuries. Based on these numbers, it is no surprise that debates are popping up all over the country, especially in Nashville.

In Nashville, Bird Scooter landed in the metro and practically flourished overnight. Increasing safety concerns, however, have caused the metro to push back and remove the e-scooters from the streets, after they appeared without permits. The company is working hard to improve safety regulations, including requiring the use of a helmet, but most people are not following. Still, the trend of dockless scooters and bicycles is here to stay. The council will vote on launching a pilot phase of these popular e-scooters.

Using a Helmet

The convenience of using e-scooters poses the number one threat to safety. Although it is recommended to wear a helmet during use, carrying a helmet takes the convenience out of using one. It is not surprising that not wearing a helmet was the number one cause of e-scooter related visits to the emergency room.

What’s the solution? Even if state regulations required the use of helmets, it is unlikely that people will begin carrying a helmet should they unexpectedly need to use an e-scooter. Companies could also begin supplying headgear, but it raises the concern of head lice being spread. One solution for this dilemma is to have disposable head liners available at e-scooter kiosks, but this raises the question of materials and cost.

Sidewalk Riding

E-scooter users believe the solution to their safety risks is riding on the sidewalk. This protects them from the dangers of city streets, with cars, trucks, and oncoming traffic. The reality, however, is riding on the sidewalk only increases the safety risks for pedestrians, thus creating the same risk of injury for themselves. E-scooter users tend to not follow city regulations when using the sidewalk such as, right of way and speed limits. Pedestrians of the city are equally as disgruntled that there once safe sidewalks are now overcome by a constant threat.

One solution has been to add sensors to the scooters to prevent them from jumping the curb. This would improve pedestrian safety and require that e-scooters ride in the designated bike lanes. Another solution is to only allow scooter rides to end in designated parking areas. It is clear that heeding warnings about e-scooters is not enough to diminish this trend. If e-scooters are here to stay, safety must be improved for its users and every person who shares the city streets.