Public transit in the modern age has changed a lot over the past decade, with ridesharing increasing in popularity as well as the introduction of things like Citi bikes and Bird scooters. Bird and other companies of electric scooter rentals have skyrocketed in popularity. The odds of going to a major metropolitan city and not finding these electric scooters on most corners are very low. The use of them is extremely convenient for many as you can pick one up nearly anywhere and just electronically pay to use it, then travel to your destination and just leave the scooter there. But, in North Carolina, convenience is starting to create risk for people.
During the summer, a North Carolina doctor says he treats 1-2 patients daily for injuries caused by a scooter accident.
Crashes increase in the summer especially, as the number of riders increases. When more scooters are in use by more people, more crashes will naturally happen. Nonetheless, people often overlook the crashes because, to some, a scooter crash sounds silly. But the injuries and severity of the crash can be quite intense. Dr. Andy Jakubowicz, the medical director of the WakeMed Children’s Emergency Department says most commonly they see injuries sustained to the arms and legs, but not all are quite as simple.
Dr. Jakubowicz has treated patients who sustained very serious head injuries from a scooter accident.
He explained that two young adults were riding on electric scooter rentals without a helmet after they had been drinking and riding it inappropriately. They then crashed and ended up hospitalized due to the severity of their head injuries.
North Carolina reports having approximately 300 scooter-related accidents be reported since 2018 and WakeMed reports having treated about 600 scooter-related injuries since 2021. The report of the accidents count is significantly lower than the injuries treated count as many people do not even report the accidents, either because they do not realize they need to, or they are too embarrassed.
Because of the lack of data, no one really studies the correlation between the accidents and what it may mean for the scooters themselves. The blame for some of the crashes can definitely fall to user error, but the scooters may also lack certain security features that could prevent a lot of accidents, but we will likely never know. The UNC’s Highway Safety Research Center is one of the few organizations that has been studying electric scooters and they report that about 30% of accidents happen to first-time riders. They also found that approximately 90% of accidents occurred off-road, away from cars.
Whether the accidents ultimately boil down to user error or system error, always ride cautiously and carefully.