Roughly one in three first-time electric scooter riders sustains an injury, according to a study released Thursday by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the Public Health and Transportation departments in Austin, Texas.
Of 271 people identified as having sustained a scooter-related injury between September 5 through November 30, 2018, the researchers found that 63 percent had ridden nine times or fewer before their injury.
“Our findings show the risks involved in riding scooters and have significant implications in considering what individual safety measures can help reduce injury,” Stephanie Hayden, director of Austin Public Health, said in a statement.
Half sustained head injuries
Throughout the course of the three-month study period, there were 14.3 individuals injured per 100,000 e-scooter trips taken.
Almost half of those who were injured sustained head injuries; 15 percent suffered traumatic brain injuries. Behind head injuries, upper extremity fractures accounted for 27 percent of injuries, followed by lower extremity fractures at 12 percent.
Alarmingly, just one out 190 injured individuals was wearing a helmet prior to sustaining an injury.
“A high proportion of e-scooter related injuries involved potentially preventable risk factors, such as lack of helmet use, or motor vehicle interaction,” a preliminary summary of the study said.
A majority of riders (70 percent) acknowledged that they had received scooter training before being injured, and 60 percent said they got the training from the scooter company’s app. However, the study authors say more preparation may be needed before allowing novice e-scooter riders to hit the streets.
Spike in e-scooter accidents
Back in September, the Washington Post reported a steep rise in e-scooter-related injuries. One hospital said it saw a 161 percent spike in visits involving electric scooters compared to the same three-month period in 2017.
“We’re seeing accident potential rise out of unsafe use more than anything,” Catherine Lerer, an attorney for McGee-Lerer, told ConsumerAffairs. “From our observation, riders are using the scooters as toys, not as alternatives to cars. And, as such, are riding the scooters without helmets, on sidewalks, letting children ride, and abandoning the scooters in the middle of sidewalks and in front of building entrances where they might be blocking handicap access ramps.”
To potentially reduce the rate of injuries among inexperienced e-scooter riders, the authors of the latest study suggested interventions aimed at these risks and education for first-time riders.