Electric Scooters have arrived in Chicago within the last month. There are thousands now available to rent around the city. As I wrote last month, the e-scooter program is similar to Divvy bicycles, which can be rented, picked up in one location and dropped off at another designated location. One major difference is that there are no designated pick up or drop off locations for e-scooters.
There has been quite a bit of news coverage the last few weeks regarding safety issues with these types of scooters. Within a few short days there were multiple traffic accidents reported, including a hit and run where a scooter apparently collided with a bicycle, leaving the bicyclist seriously injured. So, what is the main cause of e-scooter accidents? My initial guess would be that the average person does not know how to properly drive them, especially in areas with heavy traffic.
According to a study done in Austin, Texas by the Texas Department of Public Health, the main culprit for e-scooter accidents is rate of speed. The study analyzed incident reports from nine area hospitals between Sept. 2 and Nov. 30 of last year. During that time, 192 people were injured, including 160 who were using dockless scooters through the city program and 32 who were possibly riding on privately owned devices. Of those injured, 48% reported a head injury, including fractures, abrasions and lacerations, the study showed. Fifteen percent had evidence suggestive of a traumatic brain injury. Just one of the people injured reported wearing a helmet. Riders seemed honest when saying what caused their injuries: 37% of those surveyed said excessive speed was a contributing factor.
I think the study confirms my assumption that many first time riders do not know how to handle these types of scooters in traffic. Specifically, they do no know when to slow down. I will be interested to see the statistics involved with e-scooter accidents in Chicago over the next year. Many parameters were put into place, including where the scooters could driven, and a ban on scooter use after 10:00 p.m. Let’s hope that the policies put into place will help protect those willing to jump on e-scooters and the pedestrians and bicyclists around them.
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