Head Over Heels: E-Scooter Craze Leads To Spike in Injuries

Jan 17, 2020

Electric scooters can be a cheaper, more convenient alternative to getting around in cities. You don’t have to pay for parking or sit behind cars in traffic. And in some places you can rent them anywhere you go using your smartphone.  

But the explosion of e-scooters over the last several years – and the scarcity of regulations around their use -- has led to a steep increase in hospitalized injuries.

According to a new study, the rate of e-scooter-related injuries tripled between 2014 and 2018. And that’s not accounting for people who didn’t go to the ER with their injuries.

E-scooter injuries are getting more severe, too, said Nikan Namiri, a medical student at the University of California, San Francisco, and a co-author of the study. His team found that a third of e-scooter injuries were to the head, which is twice as many that occur with bicycles. That may be because fewer e-scooter riders wear helmets.

“It’s the scooter company’s responsibility to make sure there is easy access to helmets, and also knee pads and elbow pads, because there are many extremity injuries as well,” Namiri said.

And while rates of scooter injuries used to be highest among children, in 2018, young adult riders sustained the most traumas.   

“E-scooter transportation is more attractive for people aged 18-34 who might have more access to these scooters which you can get through your smartphone,” Namiri said.

Namiri stressed that it’s important for cities to think about safer infrastructure before e-scooters roll out on the streets.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUER in Salt Lake City, KUNR in Nevada, the O’Connor Center For the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, and KRCC and KUNC in Colorado.