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A new study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that most e-scooter injuries occur on pavements, with riders citing potholes and signposts as the most common reasons for accidents.
Researchers interviewed 103 e-scooter riders who sought care at Washington, D.C.’s George Washington University Hospital over eight months in 2019. Through this research they found that 58% of riders had been injured riding on the pavement — with 4% of those surveyed injured while taking their first ride. Moreover, only 13% of riders said they were injured in a collision with a car, bus, or truck.
As reported by Cities Today, the Vice President for Research at IIHS and the lead author of the study, Jessica Cicchino, reportedly said: “We didn’t see many e-scooter crashes with motor vehicles, and that may be a result of riders sticking mostly to the sidewalk – on the other hand, there are legitimate concerns that sidewalk riders could crash into pedestrians.”
“Our results suggest that moving scooters off the sidewalk could put riders at risk of more severe injuries, but as things stand they might be suffering these lesser injuries more often,” she continued.
While e-scooter usage stalled as the pandemic began, many cities, including Los Angeles, have seen an uptick in interest from users looking for socially distanced modes of travel for short distances.
Meanwhile, two of the country’s largest e-scooter companies, Lime and Bird, are currently facing two separate complaints in the form of mass tort lawsuits filed in California for allegedly failing to properly maintain their scooters.
Filed by nearly 90 plaintiffs, the lawsuits allege that malfunctioning brakes, sudden accelerations, and faulty throttles, handlebars and wheels caused riders to experience e-scooter accidents, like being thrown off the two-wheel devices, and sustain injuries, which include fractures, broken bones, and concussions. According to the suits, some of the plaintiffs even sustained trauma so severe that they underwent multiple surgeries, of which they haven’t recovered years later.
Concerns about the safety of the devices have been around since they began operating. According to a UCLA study from 2019, e-scooters were associated with 249 emergency room visits between September 2017 and the end of August 2018 in two Los Angeles hospitals. The reported injuries included dislocations, bone fractures, lung contusions, soft-tissue injuries, and a splenic laceration.
Moreover, people in the 18 to 34 age group are the most likely to sustain e-scooter injuries. Hospital admissions in this age group reportedly skyrocketed by 354% between 2014 and 2018.