You can pick them up with one hand as electric scooters weigh only 30 pounds. Its appeal is obvious: you can get from here to there with no effort, as many have noted.
Like Adam Roberts, an Atlanta-based 50-year-old Senior Claims Advisor, he thought when he appointed one for the first and last time in May 2019. It should be a 3 block drive home.
Since it was spontaneous, he had neither a helmet nor safety equipment. After 1 block, the wheel hit a pothole. “I turned over the handlebars and landed on the road. I didn't know how bad my injury was, so I got up, wiped myself off, straightened my glasses, and went home. I knew I was beaten up and both arms ached, but it wasn't until I tried to unlock my front door that I realized my right arm wouldn't move much. "
Eric R. Wagner, MD, has seen these types of accidents more times than he'd like.
A new study published today in JAMA, Emergency Medicine, found nearly 71,000 emergency room visits related to e-scooters were performed from 2014 to 2019. Dr. Wagner, a hand and orthopedic surgeon at Emory University School of Medicine, also in Atlanta, told Medical Daily, “There are usually fractures, sometimes shoulder dislocations, but it's really common, a lot happens. I operate on probably 2-3 people who have scooter injuries every month, ”he said. “And that was the reason for the idea to conduct the study. … The number of people I've treated with scooter injuries in the past 2 years has been just amazing. "
No longer child's play
Scooters – once thought of as children's toys – have become a popular means of transport for adults. The e-scooters can move at a maximum speed of 32 km / h, so they can move alongside the traffic. Cities that had become accustomed to public bicycles allowed private companies to introduce similar e-scooter programs in 2017. They look like fun, harmless, and environmentally friendly ways to get around in congested cities, so joint e-scooter companies grew in popularity quickly. Globally, the market was estimated at $ 18.6 billion in 2019. Then the people were injured.
And dead. According to news outlets, people were killed while driving e-scooters. In Singapore, where e-scooters are popular, 6 deaths have been linked to the e-scooters. Also in the US: In March 2019, a man in his fifties died in San Diego a few days after his e-scooter hit a bump and hit the ground headfirst. In the UK, popular TV presenter and YouTube personality Emily Hartridge died last year after an e-scooter accident involving a truck.
A plate in his arm
After checking out of the emergency room at Atlanta Medical Center, Mr. Roberts learned that he had soft tissue injuries and pulled tendons in his left arm in addition to a cut over his right eye and glasses. But it was his right arm that would be the biggest problem. “After several x-rays and an MRI, it was obvious that my upper right humerus had broken through where it was attached to my shoulder. I ended up having an operation to place a plate and screws to reattach the two pieces, ”he said in an email. “I [missed] 10 weeks of work to recover and [had] 12 weeks of physical therapy. I still lack some of my arm and shoulder strength and have regained about 85% of my range of motion. "
What the researchers found shouldn't be too surprising – with improved public access, the increase in accidents started immediately. The number of scooter-related accidents almost doubled between 2018 and 2019. The most common injuries were to the head, and half of them were traumatic brain injuries ranging from a mild concussion to a much worse one. Other injuries included fractures of the wrists and arms and lower limbs, and injuries to the chest and abdomen.
Dr. Wagner's team looked at who was injured, and while accidents occurred in people of all ages, they found that most injuries occurred in men between the ages of 15 and 39. Previous research found that many e-scooter accidents were associated with substance abuse, mostly alcohol. Dr. Wagner noted that while his study does not include numbers on alcohol consumption, it is obvious that this is happening. “You walk through my city and see scooters parked in front of bars, people who are obviously drinking, especially in the pre-COVID era. There is no way that people cannot do this while under the influence. "
The results of this study support the results of previous research published in JAMA, Surgery, January 2020, which found that most injuries occurred in people between the ages of 18 and 34. The researchers also found that two previous studies looked at helmet use among riders: one study found that only 4.8% of riders protected their head and another only 2%. In certain cities, e-scooter companies tell drivers to wear helmets, but the rule is not enforced. In some cities, the requirements for helmets have even decreased.
Dr. Wagner isn't a fan of e-scooters, and he wishes people wouldn't use them. "It's like everything else, it's not a harmless thing and you can hurt yourself or other people," he said. "They twist in and out of traffic, they twist in and out of people who run and run, and they're not safe to ride with them."
If people choose to use e-scooters, they should at least take precautions to reduce the risk of injury:
- Wear a helmet
- Stay on well-paved surfaces
- Don't weave in and out of traffic
- Do not use it on crowded sidewalks or footpaths
- Avoid heavy traffic
- Drive sober
- Only one person per scooter
- Know the limits
And just because an e-scooter can go fast doesn't mean you should go fast.
Mr. Roberts has not used an e-scooter since his only attempt. "I can't help but wonder what could have happened if a car had come?"