Students at Virginia Tech have had 300 e-scooters available to them on campus since September 1 as part of a study to help educate riders and communities about scooter use and safety.
The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) is conducting an 18-month study with the help of scooter company Spin, a Ford Motor Company subsidiary. The scooters will be available on the VT campus for 12 months as part of the study. Fifty scooters are equipped with forward-facing cameras, and fixed cameras are placed around campus to capture footage of rider behavior and e-scooter interactions.
“As e-scooters continue to be introduced into cities and campuses worldwide, research can help improve the safety of scooter riders and other road users, such as pedestrians, drivers, and bicyclists,” according to a VTTI news release published by Virginia Tech Daily. “It is also important for riders, as they share the streets with cars and other larger vehicles, to be aware of the risks and best practices for mitigating them.”
A report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and Austin (Texas) Public Health says 45 percent of e-scooter accidents result in head injuries, many of which could have been prevented if the riders had been wearing helmets. Only 3 percent of riders reported regularly using a helmet, according to research by Virginia Tech’s Urban Affairs and Planning Studio.
Researchers hope to educate riders and provide data that municipalities can use to incorporate e-scooters safely in their communities, according to Michael Mollenhauer, director of VTTI’s Center for Technology Implementation. The study could shed light on various user preferences and infrastructure needs of scooter riders.
How Dangerous Are Electric Scooters?
Rentable electric scooters began appearing on city streets and on college campuses in selected cities across the country late in 2017. Local governments scrambled to enact ordinances to regulate the scores of new motorized vehicles on their cities’ streets and sidewalks and address safety issues.
By October 2018, at least two deaths and scores of injuries blamed on e-scooter accidents had been reported, and Virginia cities were not allowing their use.
In August, in a 6-5 city council vote, Virginia Beach banned motorized scooters on the resort town’s oceanfront and on streets with speed limits above 25 mph after Lime scooters deployed 500 scooters there in July. The city’s Emergency Medical Services department said it has treated 65 people for scooter-related injuries since last August when Bird scooters arrived, according to The Virginian-Pilot.
Consumer Reports said in June at least eight people in the U.S. had died and some 1,500 had been injured in crashes while using a rentable e-scooter since the fall of 2017.
In July, the Virginia DMV had reports of seven electric scooter crashes involving injuries in 2018 and five in 2019, according to 13 News Now in Norfolk.
Surveys of Electric Scooter Accidents and Injuries
E-scooters are rented for short periods of time via a cellphone app. The scooters have a narrow platform on which the rider generally stands with one foot in front of the other. The vehicles travel at speeds up to approximately 15 miles per hour, the CDC / Austin Public Health Study says.
The study of e-scooter use in Austin from September to November 2018 was the first of its kind. Researchers investigated 190 injured e-scooter riders who sought care at a hospital emergency department or had care provided by emergency medical services.
Almost half (48%) of the injured riders in the study sustained an injury to the head, the report says. Fifteen percent of injured riders sustained a traumatic brain injury. “Only one of 190 injured scooter riders was wearing a helmet.”
Among other injured e-scooter riders:
- 70% sustained injuries to the upper limbs (hands/wrist/arm/shoulder)
- 55% sustained injuries to the lower limbs (leg/knee/ankle/feet)
- 18% sustained injuries to the chest/abdomen
- 43% sustained injuries on their arms
- 42% sustained injuries on their knees
- 40% sustained injuries on their face
- 37% sustained injuries on their hands.
Multiple injuries across body regions were possible, the report says.
Almost half (80) of the injured riders had a severe injury. Severe injuries among these riders included:
- Bone fractures (excluding nose/fingers/toes) – 84%
- Nerve, tendon or ligament injuries – 45%
- Spending more than 48 hours in the hospital – 8%
- Severe bleeding – 5%
- Organ damage – 1%.
More than one-third (37%) reported that excessive scooter speed contributed to their injury. Nineteen percent believed the scooter malfunctioned. One person was injured while on a phone call. Six people reported listening to music/podcast when injured.
Twenty-nine percent of injured e-scooter riders reported drinking an alcoholic beverage in the 12 hours preceding their injury.
“Perceptions may be that most e-scooter riders are injured because of collisions with motorized vehicles,” the study says. “The findings of this study do not support that perception. While more than half of the interviewed riders were injured while riding a scooter in the street, few (10%) riders sustained injuries by colliding with a motor vehicle.”
In January, the JAMA Network Open medical journal published an analysis of e-scooter accidents conducted by the University of California Los Angeles at two UCLA-affiliated hospital emergency rooms from September 2017 through August 2018. It found 249 people involved in e-scooter accidents requiring medical care. Injuries included head injuries (concussions and intracranial hemorrhages), broken bones (including a cervical spine fracture), cuts, sprains and bruises.
The most common e-scooter accidents seen at the UCLA hospitals over the course of a year were falls, collisions with objects and riders being struck by a motor vehicle or another object.
Contact Us About an E-Scooter Accident in Virginia
If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident someone else caused, you have the right to recover the costs of medical bills and other losses. Our personal injury attorneys can investigate the accident and help you pursue maximum compensation for what has unjustly happened to you.
Contact us to set up a meeting in Winchester, or wherever is convenient for you in Virginia. An initial legal consultation is always free.