Dangers of Electric ScootersPosted: January 24, 2020
Several electric scooter companies operate in the Memphis area. Over the last year, they have brought more than 2,000 scooters to the streets. With an increase in the number of people riding them, there’s been an influx of related, often preventable injuries.
Dr. Regan Williams, Medical Director of Trauma at Le Bonheur Children’s Hospital, believes these scooters have become a detriment to the community. “Since the increased use of electric scooters in most of our major cities, we’ve really seen an increase in injuries—head injuries, skin injuries, broken bones. And, these electric scooters are not built for children. They are built for adults and there are not a lot of regulations surrounding them. So, I really consider them to be more of a problem than a benefit.”
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) concurs, stating that electric scooters are unsafe for children under the age of 16. An appropriate user should also have the proper equipment, such as a helmet and padding to protect the arms and legs, as well as closed-toe shoes. Dr. Williams also advises some sort of training or practice period so riders know how to use the scooters safely—and without distraction.
“No texting and riding. Make sure both hands are always on the handles. They also need to be aware of their surroundings. A lot of times these scooters jump out into the middle of traffic and there may be a car that’s coming. If you are distracted or have your ear buds in and you can’t hear, you may not know to stop before a car gets close to you,” she cautions.
Injury Risk & Prevention Tips
Scooters should never be used on sidewalks, beach paths, or parks, because that puts pedestrians at risk of injury. “If you run into a pedestrian, you are likely to hurt yourself as well,” states Dr. Williams.
Injuries cover a broad range, spanning from more minor things like road rash or scratches and burns on the skin, to broken extremities, broken ankles, and broken wrists. On a more severe level, one might experience traumatic brain injury—especially if not wearing a helmet.
Unfortunately, in Tennessee helmets are not required by law for cyclists unless they are under the age of 16. For scooters, helmets are encouraged, but are not required.
“We are always advocating for stronger regulations to ensure children are wearing helmets anytime they are on a bicycle or an electric scooter. Traumatic brain injury is the number-one cause of injury in children, so we always want to make sure that whenever a child is doing anything that might hurt their head, it’s protected with a helmet,” explains Dr. Williams. “And, as much as we hope we could educate parents and children about the need for helmets, that doesn’t always happen.”
Electric scooter companies recommend the use of a helmet, but they don’t provide a helmet. They also employ a marketing angle that it’s “easy” to get on and get off. “If it’s easy to get on and get off, you wouldn’t be carrying a helmet with you. So, what they are marketing and what they are recommending are two different things,” notes Dr. Williams.
Kids Can Still Have Fun
If a child really wants to be a part of the scooter experience, Dr. Williams says there are options. “None of those e-scooters are going to be acceptable for children less than 16. But, if their child really wants an electric scooter, the parent could look into purchasing one that is really built for a child. Something that’s smaller and doesn’t go as fast,” she advises. “And of course, still making sure they wear a helmet and protective equipment, even if they are going to ride one that’s the right size for them.”