Electric scooters are popular all over Georgia, especially in large cities like Atlanta. It’s hard to go down the street without seeing one parked or almost getting knocked down by someone riding one. E-scooters offer convenient and affordable quick trips in the city, but at what safety cost? The popularity of e-scooters has left lawmakers scrambling to catch up and create appropriate safety rules. In the meantime, electric scooter injuries are on the rise.
Since 2018, there have been at least 11 reported scooter deaths in Georgia. This fatality rate is significantly higher than the national average. If you or someone you love suffered injuries due to an electric scooter, you could have the right to receive compensation for your injuries. The attorneys at MG Law can help you understand your legal options.
Safety Risks Related to E-Scooters
Riding an e-scooter comes with risks. Some of these are inherent to the scooter design. Other risks are created by the rider, such as choosing not to wear a helmet. Scooter renters do not go through any safety training and are not given information about applicable laws. Cities often have differing rules, meaning you might be required to ride on the sidewalk in one place, while other towns forbid it.
Riders who drink and get on a scooter increase their risk of getting into an accident. Alcohol impairs judgment and slows down your reaction time. Some people think riding an electric scooter while intoxicated is ok because it’s not a car. However, you should avoid riding a scooter after drinking, especially at night, since they are not optimized for night driving.
E-scooter users are voicing their concerns about safety risks and defects in these vehicles and have filed class action lawsuits calling out companies like Lime and Bird for not properly maintaining their scooters. Lawsuits allege sudden accelerations, malfunctioning brakes, and faulty throttles, handlebars, and wheels that cause riders to be thrown off. Injuries include broken bones and concussions, with some victims requiring multiple surgeries.
Many scooter accidents involve collisions with stationary objects, but there have also been many reports of collisions with vehicles. Some known safety risks with e-scooters include the following.
High Center of Gravity
Because riders stand on the scooter, the center of gravity is far from the ground, which makes it more likely you will tip over. It’s also easy for riders to tip over because the spacing of the wheels is not very wide, making the scooter unstable.
Many of these scooters are designed for occasional home use, not constant commercial use. Manufacturers often use cheap materials that quickly deteriorate, especially when the scooter is left outside all the time. Some shared scooters have self-reporting damage capability. Unfortunately, the scooter company is the only one who receives a report of damage, not the next person about to rent it.
Small, solid wheels can also be hazardous. They lack the same traction as air-filled tires and don’t absorb shock as well. That’s part of the reason it’s easy to lose control of a scooter when you hit bumps or large cracks in the sidewalk.
Shared scooters typically have geofences. Within certain areas, the scooter will go faster, while in other areas, the scooter will go slower. Once you hit one of these invisible fences, the scooter slows down with no warning, causing riders to lose control and crash.
It’s no secret that many neighborhoods strongly oppose the arrival of electric scooters. Some residents have gone so far as to vandalize scooters. Some vandals in San Diego, California, cut the brake lines on rental scooters in Pacific Beach. Unsuspecting renters could get on vandalized scooters only to find out they can not stop.
Lack of Nighttime Lights
You should not ride a scooter at nighttime. E-scooters do not have bright headlights like you find on vehicles, so they should not be on the road at night. Riders often have trouble seeing the road at night, and other motorists might not spot an electric scooter’s small, dim headlights.
Common Injuries Related to Electric Scooters
According to a report from the National Library of Medicine, hospitals in major cities are seeing an increase in traumatic injuries related to electric scooters. Since these standing motorized scooters were introduced in 2017, emergency rooms are receiving more victims injured in scooter-related accidents.
Electric scooter injuries often involve head trauma. Since many people do not wear a helmet, the chances of hitting your head on the pavement increase if you crash or fall. Wearing a helmet can potentially save your life in a scooter, bicycle, or motorcycle accident. Concussions are common among scooter riders. E-bike injuries typically include concussions too, but the rate is higher among e-scooter riders. In more severe accidents, head injuries can include a skull fracture.
Injuries to extremities are also very common in electric scooter accidents. Damage can range from soft tissue injuries to fractures and broken bones. Arms, wrists, and legs are some of the most common sites of breaks and fractures. Many extremity injuries require hospitalization and surgical intervention.
Tips for Staying Safe on Electric Scooters
The United States Consumer Product Safety Commission has helpful tips to keep you safer when riding an electric scooter. The Commission recommends riders:
- Always wear a helmet;
- Consider wearing elbow and knee pads;
- Check for any damage to the scooter before starting to ride;
- Test the scooter’s brakes;
- Make sure you are visible;
- Keep both hands on the handlebars;
- Watch out for any hazards or obstacles;
- Do not ride while distracted;
- Slow down and lean back if you are going over a bump;
- Do not try any stunts;
- Follow all manufacturer directions;
- Always ride solo;
- Report signs of damage to the rental company;
- Park appropriately; and
- Ride responsibly.
Electric scooters are not toys. Exercising due care can help keep you safe and reduce the risk of collisions. Should young children be riding e-scooters? The American Academy of Pediatrics thinks no one under 16 should be operating an electric scooter, as many reported injury cases involve children.
Contact a Georgia Personal Injury Lawyer
Riding an electric scooter comes with numerous risks. Motorists in cities with e-scooters must drive even more defensively to avoid striking someone riding one. Pedestrians also need to pay closer attention to their surroundings to avoid being hit by a scooter. If you sustained injuries in an electric scooter accident due to another party’s negligence or a potential defect with the scooter itself, please speak with a Georgia personal injury lawyer immediately.
At MG Law, we have years of experience assisting injured victims, including people with electric scooter injuries. These claims can involve complex legal issues, so you need an experienced legal advocate to protect your interests. Contact our office to schedule a consultation and learn more about how we can assist you in pursuing a claim for damages.