Most injured scooter riders don’t wear helmets

Written on behalf of Abramson Smith Waldsmith LLP

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It goes without saying that head trauma leads to head injuries and concussions, and head trauma can lead to brain damage.

What causes head injuries? More commonly, electric scooters.

Some details about scooters

There are three main scooter rental companies in California – Bird, LimeBike and Spin. They believe scooters can provide “last mile” transportation as people travel by shared rides, public transportation and bikes.

They have collectively managed to raise $255 million from venture capitalists and are available in 60 cities nationwide.

Scooters are managed through smartphone apps which locate the scooters and can “unlock” them via code. Most cost $1 per half-hour ride and then roughly 15 cents per mile or minute. Some charge by subscription.

Scooters run on electricity and ride on two wheels. Riders travel on sidewalks or in bike lanes. They can travel up to 15 miles per hour.

Lots of head injuries

The problem is that people fall off the fast-moving scooters and hurt their heads:

A UCLA study found that of 249 people who went to emergency rooms in Los Angeles after scooter accidents, about 30 percent arrived by ambulance, indicating the severity of their accidents.

The study, along with others, also found:

  • Only 4 percent were wearing helmets
  • Just over 40 percent had head injuries
  • In Santa Monica, the fire department responded to 34 serious accidents involving scooters in the summer of 2018
  • In San Francisco, one emergency room leader said the department sees as many as 10 severe injuries per week
  • Emergency room doctors in Austin, Atlanta and Nashville, among others, say they have seen a spike in emergency room visits since scooters were introduced
  • No national data on scooter injuries exists

None of the companies provide helmets, although Bird hands out helmets to those who ask.

Adding to injury totals is a questionable record of machine service, including some of the businesses hiring mechanics with little to no experience and putting machines on the streets with poorly functioning brakes and sticky accelerators.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, traumatic brain injury occurs when a blow to the head causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth. The injury – also called a concussion -can result in short-term and long-term injuries that include declines in thinking, memory, emotions, coordination and balance, speech, hearing or vision.

For those injured, it is often a long road to recovery.

Jeffrey R. Smith

Jeffrey R. Smith

Managing Partner

Robert B. Waldsmith

Robert J. Waldsmith

Partner, 1999

William B. Smith

William B. Smith

Partner, 1978

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