In August 2022, Modesto City Council voted against allowing electric scooter rentals in the city. They cited potential dangers to riders and others in rejecting the pilot program.
E-scooters have numerous advantages. They help reduce traffic congestion and reliance on cars. They reduce greenhouse gas emissions, and sharing programs enable more people to have ready access to transportation. Still, many cities are starting to rethink their policies regarding e-scooters due to the dangers they present.
A 2019 study conducted by UCLA reported that two hospitals dealt with 249 injuries involving e-scooters in a one-year period. Of those treated, almost 40 percent involved head trauma. A study based in Austin, Texas, also released in 2019, found the incidence of head injuries closer to 50 percent.
E-scooters may also be especially dangerous in Los Angeles. Here are twelve dangers that face e-scooter riders.
1. No Statewide Helmet Mandate
As mentioned above, the UCLA study found that head trauma accounted for 40 percent of injuries. The same study noted that less than 5 percent of riders wear helmets. As of 2019, California requires only riders under 18 years of age to wear a helmet, although some cities and counties may require all riders to wear a helmet.
Excessive speed can be one cause of accidents with e-scooters. California requires that an e-scooter shouldn't exceed 15 mph. Most e-scooters are top-heavy, so they're more likely to tip over at higher speeds.
3. Lack of training and licensing
Unlike a car or motorcycle, you do not need to pass a test or complete training to ride an e-scooter. This means riders may not know traffic laws or the proper operation of an e-scooter before riding.
4. Riding Location
Many cities ban e-scooters on sidewalks, which is dangerous for riders and pedestrians. A 2020 study from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety found that almost 60 percent of accidents involving e-scooters occurred on sidewalks.
While California allows e-scooters on some roads, sharing the road with full-size cars and trucks increases the risks to e-scooter riders. In California, city and local authorities decide if e-scooters can use bike lanes.
Most e-scooters, especially those used by rental companies, are low-cost and low-quality. This can lead to more frequent breakdowns, and riders may not notice or be aware of any damage. In many cases, the damage may not be visible.
6. Reckless Drivers
A 2022 study from Norway compared injury and accident rates between bicyclists and scooter riders. The researchers found that 40 percent of e-scooter accidents involved an intoxicated rider. California's DUI laws cover e-scooters, but for a civil lawsuit, intoxication may make it more difficult to claim damages or argue that another party was negligent.
7. Weight Limits
Depending on the make and model, an e-scooter may have a weight limit for riders. Those available for rental generally have a maximum weight of 220 pounds. Excess weight can affect the scooter's performance and increase the risk of an accident.
8. Lack of Lighting
Many e-scooters have insufficient built-in lights. If you plan to ride an e-scooter at dusk or night, plan to bring additional light sources.
Many rental companies require that their e-scooters be kept within a certain geographic area. E-scooters that cross that line will cease functioning. The problem is that riders are often given little, if any, warning that they're approaching the scooter's limit, and e-scooters may stop suddenly.
10. Small wheels
As compared to motorcycle or moped tires, which are air-filled, e-scooters have small, solid tires that have minimal shock absorption. In the 2019 Austin study, nearly half of individuals involved in e-scooter accidents blamed road conditions, such as potholes. E-scooter wheels do little to protect against poor roads.
11. Brake Defects
Reports of braking issues are common. In 2019, Lime addressed a software issue that caused “sudden excessive breaking.” Lime updated the software to address the problem, but issues persist. In 2022, two cities in New Zealand temporarily banned Lime e-scooters due to multiple safety concerns, including “irregular braking incidents” and their front wheels locking.
12. Battery Safety
E-scooter batteries can catch fire if overcharged. In August 2022, a woman and child died after a battery caught fire. This was only the latest of dozens of reports of fires caused by e-scooter batteries.
Knowing the current risks of riding an e-scooter can help you reduce your chance of injury. However, in case of an accident, an experienced personal injury attorney can help ensure you get the maximum compensation award.