If you've ever thought about climbing on a rideshare electric scooter, much less letting your kids ride one, you may want to think again. Similar to their foot-powered predecessors, electric scooters are making headlines for sending riders to emergency rooms—and worse—in North Texas and across the country. According to a 2019 CDC report, there has been a surge in ER visits for fractures, dislocations and head trauma since last year when e-scooters started showing up on urban streets.
Earlier this year in Austin, a University of Texas star baseball player hit a pothole while riding one. The surgery to repair his torn Achilles tendon put him out for the season. A mom of four, the CEO for a nonprofit, hit a rock while riding a scooter, lost control and suffered a concussion and broken rib. In Austin's first scooter-related fatality, a UT student was killed when the electric scooter he was riding collided with a car.
These and similar incidents prompted Austin Public Health and the Austin Transportation Department to contact the CDC and request the first-ever study of scooter-related crashes and injuries. The study results, which were released in early May, found that nearly half of the 192 study subjects suffered a "severe injury," including:
- Head injuries/traumatic brain injuries, which topped the list of accident-related incidents involving e-scooters at 45%
- Upper and lower extremity fractures, which followed a close second at 39%
- Additional severe injuries requiring hospitalization of 48 hours or more, including:
- Damage to organs, nerves, tendons and ligaments
- Severe bleeding
"Statistics show that less than 1% of all riders wear a helmet, yet almost half of the injured riders sustained a head injury," said Karrie Lawson, Injury Prevention and Outreach Coordinator for Trauma Services at Medical City Children's Hospital.
"Remember that an e-scooter is still a moving vehicle that can cause a significant traumatic injury, but it can be a fun vehicle when used safely and wisely. Ultimately, we want you to take appropriate precautions. Wear protective gear, go slow, be aware of your surroundings, don't ride distracted or under the influence, and know your state laws and city ordinances."
Tips for riding an electric scooter safely.
Here are some things you can do to decrease the risk of accident or injury:
- Always wear a helmet, even if you're only going a short distance
- Ideally, read the manual and practice on the scooter before riding in traffic
- Ride where and how it's safest
- Not on sidewalks unless local law allows or requires it
- In protected bike lanes or close to the right curb whenever possible
- On flat, smooth, dry pavement free from rocks, debris and potholes
- One rider per vehicle
- Avoid distracted driving and concentrate on your surroundings; stow your phone, ditch the coffee, remove your headphones and keep both hands on the handlebars
- Don't drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
When an electric scooter trip turns into a trip to the ER, one of our many Medical City Healthcare emergency locations has you covered. With average wait times posted online, if you do have an emergency, you can spend less time waiting and more time on the moments that matter most.