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Electric scooters: Collisions and head injuries are common

Five orange and black electric scooters sit in a row.

March 6, 2019—Maybe you've seen electric scooters whizzing by in your neighborhood. They're a trendy way of getting around on busy city streets and sidewalks.

But there's a dangerous downside for the thousands of people nationwide now using them, a new study shows. Riders are often badly hurt. The study is believed to be the first to look at injuries caused by the scooter craze.

Electric scooters reach speeds of up to 15 miles per hour. They can now be rented for a modest cost in more than 60 U.S. cities.

Head injuries common

The study looked at data on nearly 250 people treated for scooter-related injuries at two California emergency rooms from Sept. 1, 2017, to Aug. 31, 2018.

It found that about 1 out of 3 of those treated arrived by ambulance—a sign of how severe their injuries were. The most frequent injuries were head injuries (40 percent); fractures (32 percent); and cuts, sprains and bruises (28 percent).

Fifteen people were hospitalized, and two wound up in intensive care units.

While most of those injured were riders, 8 percent were non-riders. Riders were usually hurt falling. But some crashed into objects or were struck by moving vehicles. Injured non-riders sometimes were hit by scooters or stumbled over discarded ones.

In addition, ER medical records showed that only 4 percent of injured riders were wearing helmets. That's even though most scooter companies advise wearing them.

6 tips for safe scooting

For safety's sake—yours and others'—follow these steps if you choose to scoot:

  1. Always wear a helmet.
  2. Understand exactly how the scooter works before you take off—and start slow.
  3. Stay alert. Watch out for people, cars, bikes and bumps in the road. Put your headphones away to be extra aware.
  4. Don't snack and scoot. And never ride a scooter if you've been drinking alcohol.
  5. Don't double up. One scooter; one rider.
  6. Learn the local rules of the road. Every city is different.

Learn more about scooter safety from the American College of Emergency Physicians.

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