Scooters: Back in the News, but Are They Safe?
Compared to hoverboards and Ubers, scooters might seem like a thing of the past. But thanks to e-scooter sharing programs in cities like Portland and San Francisco, they might be making a comeback.
Traditionally, a scooter refers to a recreational vehicle that consists of a floorboard, two wheels, and a long steering handle. The rider rests one foot against the floor board and pushes the other against the ground, which moves the scooter forward.
Grab a Scooter and Go
In cities like Portland, the scooters that are gaining popularity are called e-scooters. They operate similarly to a traditional scooter, but with the added bonus of a motor for faster travel. The e-scooters are part of a program that allows people to download an app, pick up a scooter from a designated location, and then unlock the scooter through the app. When they are finished, they return it to another designated location.
It’s just like the bike sharing initiatives that have sprouted up in many cities across the United States. These programs give people a unique option instead of their own vehicle or public transportation. Ride sharing programs are a great way for cities to reduce their carbon footprint. Plus, they provide a healthy and active way for people to travel around their city. With so many environmental and health benefits, it’s no surprise that they’ve taken off in big cities, especially those who want to cut down on heavy traffic.
Scooter Safety Concerns
Still, the new e-scooter programs—and the comeback of scooters in general—bring along some health risks. With the ride sharing programs in particular, helmet use is a major issue. Since people do not own the scooters, they might not have a helmet available for their ride. Helmets do not come with the available e-scooters, and naturally, helmet sharing is not an idea that most people support. This means that many people who are participating in the scooter sharing program are not wearing helmets.
When riding a bike, motorcycle, scooter, or similar vehicle, helmets are of paramount importance. They reduce the risk of serious head injuries by cushioning the skull and brain in the event of a fall. 75% of fatal head injuries in children would have been prevented by a helmet, according to SafeKidsUSA. Although adult brains might be more developed than children’s, helmets are still just as important for grownups.
While the e-scooter program does not explicitly encourage riders to not use helmets, the nature of the program leads to a lack of helmet use. For example, if someone is headed to the bus stop but sees an available scooter and decides to hop on, their spontaneity means they probably don’t have a helmet with them.
Another scooter issue, both with shared programs and regular use, is traffic and other drivers. Like bikes or skateboards, scooters are much smaller than cars and other vehicles on the roads, which puts them at risk. Drivers might not see them, especially if the driver is distracted, fatigued, or intoxicated. A collision will typically have bigger consequences for the smaller vehicle. If a rider is doing something dangerous, like weaving through traffic, they could also contribute to an accident.
If the recent rise in scooter popularity has inspired you to give one a try, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- Always wear a properly-fitting helmet
- If out at night, wear bright clothing or attach a light to your scooter to make yourself more visible
- Don’t assume that other vehicles see you
- Check carefully for vehicles before crossing at an intersection
- Avoid riding during bad weather conditions, like rain or fog
The attorneys at Perenich, Caulfield, Avril & Noyes represent those involved in car accidents, motorcycle accidents, bicycle accidents, pedestrian accidents, and other types of personal injury matters. Our firm is one of the oldest personal injury law firms in Tampa Bay. There are no attorneys’ fees or costs unless we prevail for you. Call our office 24 hours a day at 727-796-8282 or simply click here to schedule a free case consultation.