E-scooter rentals are a loosely regulated industry that is taking many riders on a one way trip to the hospital emergency room. As these services proliferate, little is being done to protect riders from the risks involved in using these potentially hazardous devices. For now, rider beware is advice every potential user should heed.
The Rise of E-Scooter Rentals
Cheap, affordable, and easy to rent. The appeal of e-scooter rentals is obvious. These three factors have helped these services proliferate across the country. Lime, Bird, and others have expanded rapidly and in 2018 these companies facilitated more than 38.5 million trips on rentable scooters.
E-scooters travel at 15 mph or faster. At just $1 to unlock the device, it’s far less expensive than a taxi. However, these devices require no training to rent. This means riders pose a risk to themselves, motorists, and other pedestrians.
Rising Trauma Rates
E-scooters are responsible for a rising rate of traumatic injuries. Nearly 51% of individuals who are injured on an e-scooter suffer hemorrhages or bone fractures. Approximately 65% of those who are injured are male, and about 40% have a BAC of .08% or greater. One of the most alarming statistics regards helmet usage. A full 98% of those who are injured on an e-scooter were not wearing a helmet at the time of their crash. This makes them highly susceptible to traumatic brain injuries.
26% of injuries involve facial fractures. Of these, 30% are mandible fractures. Of those who suffer fractures, approximately 22% require surgical intervention.
Intracranial hemorrhage occurred in 19% of patients who suffered injuries on an e-scooter. Subarachnoid hemorrhage was suffered by 15% of patients, and a total of 16.5% suffered concussions without any form of hemorrhaging.
A Patchwork of Regulations
As with mopeds, regulations are slow to take effect, and even slower to introduce. Few cities have solid regulations in place to protect riders from potential injuries on an e-scooter.
Cities such as Nashville, Paris, and New York are experimenting with regulations that include limiting speed limits, fines for riders who ride on sidewalks, and limits on locations where e-scooters can operate. For now, it’s very much the “wild west” where riders are allowed to do whatever they want, whenever they want, and with little oversight from regulatory establishments. It’s creating a potentially deadly situation that the trends in injury rates show is escalating quickly.