Electric scooters have become a staple of many urban environments. They’re convenient, nimble — and behind a surprising surge in injuries.
Researchers at the University of California San Francisco report that electric scooter-related injuries and hospital admissions in the United States soared by 222% between 2014 and 2018. In total, electric scooters accounted for more than 39,000 injuries and 3,300 hospitalizations.
They’re also comparatively more dangerous than bicycles. Almost one-third of patients suffered head injuries on electric scooters — more than twice the injury rate for bicyclists. Most of those injured in 2018 were between the ages of 18 and 34 and about two-thirds of them were males.
The researchers analyzed a data set that included both bicyclists and electric scooter injuries and found the most common injuries were broken bones, bruises and cuts. The study results were published in an American Medical Association journal.
Researchers said the findings point to a need for better regulation and rider safety measures.
The sudden prevalence of electric scooters — both privately owned and short-term rentals — has sometimes left local officials scrambling to deal with oversight and regulation. Rules on where people can ride scooters and helmet mandates often vary from community to community. Prior research has shown that most electric scooter riders opt not to wear a helmet: Less than 5% of riders in the current study were wearing a helmet when they got hurt.
So, before you zip away on an electric scooter, researchers have this advice: Obey the rules of the road, be aware of your surroundings and safeguard your noggin by strapping on a helmet.