They’re everywhere these days. You see them in parks, on sidewalks, even in the streets, and people of all ages are using them. I’m talking about electric scooters, or e-scooters, and they are causing quite the alarm.
As an orthopedic trauma surgeon, I’ve seen very few scooter-related injuries over the years — until this year.
Unlike typical injuries from falling off a skateboard or bicycle, injuries from electric scooter crashes are frequently more traumatic and higher energy.
Since the e-scooters arrived in Dallas, my team has seen a dramatic increase in scooter-related injuries, many so serious that they require surgery. Unlike typical injuries from falling off a skateboard or bicycle, injuries from electric scooter crashes are frequently more traumatic and higher energy.
But why are these injuries so severe, you may ask?
Three reasons: speed, the environment and the rider’s lack of experience.
Many of the riders who get on e-scooters have never used one before and assume it will be easy to use and navigate. But once they get on, they usually end up going too fast and may lose control. They also almost never wear a helmet or other protective gear, therefore increasing the severity of their injuries. In contrast, few individuals would consider riding a motorcycle without prior experience, protective gear or structured safety instruction. Somehow this logic is not used for e-scooters.
The environment plays a role as well because there’s no space designed for these types of scooters. Sidewalks are not meant for a scooter going that fast, and roads aren’t safe for both scooter riders and car drivers to share. In addition, many sidewalks are now blocked by stacks of idle scooters waiting to be used. The scooters are designed to go faster than pedestrians or bicycles but not fast enough to integrate with street traffic.
How you can stay safe on an e-scooter
While e-scooters can be fun to ride, it’s important to put your safety first, as well as the safety of those around you. Here are some ways you can stay safe the next time you decide to use an electric scooter.
First, consider your experience and physical abilities to safely use a scooter as well as the environment you will be using. If you have never ridden an e-scooter, maybe downtown at peak traffic time is not the best idea for your first ride.
Be a tortoise, not a hare
Don’t hop on an e-scooter and immediately start going 20 mph. Go slow. Take time to practice and get familiar with your surroundings.
Keep your eyes open and stay alert
The reality is that you have to be aware of other things on the road, like cars and trucks, that are probably not expecting scooters. And it’s not just cars you have to look out for — be aware of people, bikes, dogs and strollers, as they can also pose as obstacles.
Similar to those who ride bicycles or rollerblade, e-scooter riders should also wear protective gear.
For anything that makes you go faster than your own feet can carry, you should wear some kind of protective gear. Similar to those who ride bicycles or rollerblade, e-scooter riders should also wear protective gear. This includes a helmet, kneepads, wrist guards and elbow pads to protect your whole body.
Follow the rules
Like bicycles, when used on the street, e-scooter riders are expected to follow the same rules as motor vehicle operators. Stop at lights and stop signs, yield to pedestrians, and signal when stopping or turning.
Don’t drink and ride
Just like any moving vehicle, you should not drink alcohol and get on an electric scooter. That’s a sure way to meet me or one of my orthopedic partners.
Lastly, use common sense and be courteous!
Friends don’t let friends get hurt on e-scooters. Share these tips with your scooter-riding friends.
— Baylor Scott & White (@bswhealth) November 8, 2018
Injured from an e-scooter? Find an orthopedist at Baylor Scott & White Health.
About the author
Dr. Alan Jones is the medical director of orthopedic trauma services at Baylor University Medical Center at Dallas, part of Baylor Scott & White Health. He is a board-certified orthopedic surgeon and a founding member of Orthopaedic Trauma Associates of North Texas.