A UC San Francisco (UCSF) study has found that injuries obtained via e-scooters hit 39,000 in 2018 – a rise of 222% on the total suffered in 2014.
Naturally this follows the increasing popularity of e-scooters in the country, but it does also show the dangers involved despite the relatively low speeds. A third of the patients included in the data suffered head trauma, which the research suggests is over twice the rate that cyclists suffer similar injuries.
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“E-scooters are a fast and convenient form of transportation and help to lessen traffic congestion, especially in dense, high-traffic areas,” said senior author Benjamin N. Breyer. “But we’re very concerned about the significant increase in injuries and hospital admissions that we documented, particularly during the last year, and especially with young people, where the proportion of hospital admissions increased 354%.”
The absolute number involved in hospital admissions is still on the low side – there were only 3300 admissions recorded – but the study is probably on the conservative side for two reasons. Firstly, it stands to reason that not everyone who suffers injury will hit the accident and emergency department – especially in the United States where such a trip can prove costly.
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Secondly, while the UCSF research used data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, incidents where the scooter type was unclear were excluded from the study.
Of course, on this side of the Atlantic the injury rate is likely a lot lower – mainly because their uptake has been hampered by the law. While you have likely seen a few electric scooters zipping around pavements, that’s not actually legal and can be subject to fines and points on the driving licence.
For the time being, UK law defines e-scooters as “Personal Light Electric Vehicles,” meaning they’re treated the same way as cars – and as they don’t have the same features (visible rear lights, indicators, number plates, etc.) they can’t pass the test to be road-worthy. They are, however, free to use on private land.