Electric scooters have been a point of some controversy and contention around the country. People who like electric scooters and scooter-sharing services feel that they provide an economical and eco-friendly way to get around town — especially in big cities where traffic and parking are big issues. However, others feel that scooters pose a safety risk and are a nuisance.
A few places in the country have banned electric scooters, at least temporarily, as a result. Chattanooga, Tennessee, for example, banned electric scooters for six months so that city leaders can address some of the safety concerns surrounding them.
Research is coming out that indicates electric scooter accidents may be linked to alcohol and drugs, adding to concerns. For example, according to research cited in the Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open journal, e-scooter-related trauma has significantly gone up. There were a few factors that were similar across the majority of scooter accidents: infrequent use of helmets and impairment due to alcohol and illicit substances
The study in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open journal looked at the use of e-scooters from September 2017 to October 2018, taking into account drug and alcohol use, helmet use, injuries, procedures and hospital and intensive care unit lengths of stay.
During the study period, 103 patients were admitted and admissions went up over time. The study showed that:
- 98% of patients weren’t wearing a helmet
- 79% were tested for alcohol, and 48% of these individuals had a blood alcohol level greater than 80 mg/dL
- 52% had a positive urine toxicology screen.
The study wasn’t the only example of scooter accidents related to drugs and alcohol. In September 2018, someone on a Bird scooter in Los Angeles was prosecuted for hitting a pedestrian while under the influence.
Lime Developing Intoxication Safety Features
The Lime company, which makes e-scooters, is looking at ways they can maintain the convenience of their products but also improve the safety at the same time. Brad Bao talked with the editor-in-chief of The Verge. He discussed how the Lime electric scooter company is looking at the potential of increasing the technology that will sense whether a scooter is wobbling or going in a straight line. Bao said his company is working on technology that would not only sense potential riding-under-the-influence but also automatically slow the scooter down.
Electric Scooter May Come to Orlando
Sometime soon, there will likely be a huge increase in scooter rental in Orlando, Florida. According to the Orlando Sentinel, city leaders are nearing a plan to allow for hundreds of dockless electric scooters to come into the city.
Orlando regulations indicate that any company with a permit can have up to 200 scooters in their city fleet. The wheels have to be at least 10 inches in diameter, and the scooters can’t go any faster than 10 mph. Currently, Lime has 500 electric-assist cycles in Orlando, but the company has said they will remove the bikes once they bring Lime scooters to Orlando.
As e-scooters become more available and popular, it’s important that riders are responsible. Operating a scooter while impaired, even though it is much smaller and slower than a vehicle, is never safe.
Stump, Scott. “Study finds nearly half of serious e-scooter injuries involved alcohol.” Today, August 30, 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019.
WTVC. “Electric scooters banned in Chattanooga for 6 months.” News Channel 9, July 9, 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019.
Hawkins, Andrew J. “Lime’s electric scooters will be able to tell when you’re too drunk to ride.” The Verge, April 17, 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019.
Kobayashi, Leslie M. “The e-merging e-epidemic of e-scooters.” Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open, June 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019.
Gillespie, Ryan and Spear, Kevin. “Orlando readies for electric scooter invasion with proposed rules for speed, wheels and no-go zones.” Orlando Sentinel, September 18, 2019. Accessed October 23, 2019.