back to article Eggheads have crunched the numbers and the results are in: It's not just your dignity you lose with e-scooters, life and limb are in peril, too

There were nearly 40,000 electric scooter injuries in the United States between 2014 and 2018, according to a study published in the journal JAMA Surgery on Wednesday. Specifically, in 2014, there were 4,582 injuries, and by 2018, that annual figure stood at 14,651 – that's a 222 per cent surge over the four-year period. The …

  1. FozzyBear
    Pint

    All in all, you'd have to be a damn idiot to ride on those things drunk or high, without a helmet.

    Perhaps, but admittedly, after a night on the turps, getting on one to get home is probably the best idea you had, since getting that chilli chicken kebab at 2 in the morning.

    1. Michael M

      Yep, take it out the boot of your car and go home.

      1. BebopWeBop Silver badge

        Get out your Brompton (substitute favourite folder) and ride home. Even pushed it will be safer. Better still, walk, if you are that far gone it will not seem far.

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Stop

          Drunk on a bike is still a criminal offence as you've failed to comply with the Road Traffic Act, IIRC, which can result in you being disqualified from driving as well as criminal proceedings resulting in a fine of up to £2500 (depending on how wobbly you were).

          Equally, the only place you can ride an electric scooter in the UK is on private land - they're banned on the road and on the pavements, with 6 points and a £300 fine if plod decides to collar you.

          Not that this stops any of them, obvs

          1. philebbeer

            You can't get points on your driving licence if you were in charge of a machine that did not require you to ho;d a licence. I'm sure you could be booked for something, but your licence is not in any danger.

            1. JetSetJim Silver badge
              Headmaster

              ORLY?

              15yo got 6 points for "driving" an electric scooter

    2. Neil Barnes Silver badge

      drunk or high, or. without a helmet.

      Or indeed at all... but then, I'm a old, and a Luddite.

      And it can be considered evolution in action.

    3. Fortycoats

      Cops in Munich weren't taking any crap either. Half of all those done for drink-driving during the Oktoberfest in 2019 were on eScooters - 414 people. 254 of them temporarily lost their driving license. Good.

    4. Charlie Clark Silver badge

      The helmet is a red herring. The physics of these toys make them dangerous in any traffic situation.

      1. Oh Matron! Silver badge

        The ATTITUDE of these users makes them dangerous...

        My ride to work from putney to Liverpool st fortunatly doesn't have any of these fools, with the exception of this morning. It's wet from the night before, it's dark (sub 7am) and there's a fool, dressed in black (with his finest canadian goose parker), with no lights nor helmet

        Evolution in action indeed....

        1. SuperGeek Bronze badge

          Darwin would be so proud ;)

      2. BGatez Bronze badge

        danger Will Robinson

        Statistics on reported road casualties in Great Britain for the year ending June 2018 shows, there were:

        1,770 reported road deaths

        26,610 people killed or seriously injured

        165,100 casualties of all severities, a decrease of 6%

        Statistics on reported road casualties in Great Britain for the year ending June 2019 shows there were:

        1,870 reported road deaths

        a slight increase compared to the year ending June 2018, however, this change is not statistically significant.

        Also, there were:

        27,820 people killed or seriously injured

        157,630 casualties of all severities, a decrease of 5%

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Headmaster

          Re: danger Will Robinson

          I wonder if the gradual decrease in casualties of all severities is due to design improvements to vehicles such that low speed collisions are less likely to result in serious injury, and these vehicles gradually becoming more commonplace on the roads, whereas the number of road deaths is moderately stable in that it's primarily to do with the statistical chance of incidents where someone will die irrespective of the design of the car (e.g. pedestrian getting hit by a tonne-plus object moving at 70mph)

      3. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Surely the helmet is still useful if, say, the rider falls off?

        Mind you, I wouldn't ride one of these things if you paid me to. Anything within a few miles is walking distance; anything beyond that is further than I'd want to go on an electric scooter even if I didn't find them obnoxious.

        1. BGatez Bronze badge

          check your walk speed

          A 15 minute mile walking is a pretty brisk pace (try it yourself) and a few miles (maybe each way) is healthy but time consuming and sweaty. 8mph isn't hazard speed on a scooter and if you need to get somewhere on time, makes a difference.

      4. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

        @Charlie Clark: "The helmet is a red herring."

        I fear it may be, and then the mandatory wearing of helmets could make matters worse.

        I snowboard, and when I started, nobody wore helmets. Now the vast majority do, but we've not seen a significant decrease in injury, not even just head injuries. It's thought that the added feeling of security makes people more brave and take on slopes and tricks they might otherwise not, so the protection is cancelled by extra risk.

        If this were the case with eScooters, being amongst traffic would place other road users in danger also.

        Plus as eScooters are all about the convenience of short term rental, does a 'one size fits all' helmet add extra security, or are we going to get accidents as oversize helmets slip and obscure vision, or hands are taken off handlebars to correct etc?

        1. JetSetJim Silver badge
          Joke

          Yeah, but the counterargument of replacing steering wheel airbags with a big spike pointing at the drivers face hasn't caught on, either...

        2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

          People who want to keep heir hair nice don't want to wear a helmet. It's not a problem for me. Less and less so, in fact, sadly.

          For cycling this means that people miss out on hypothetically healthy exercise - traffic fumes aside. The health benefit of an electric scooter is less obvious.

          However, you can do either at home, stationary and safe.

          I do wonder if these scooter accident victims would have found other ways to injure themselves if, say, on the inauspicious occasion they'd found their scooter uncharged and unusable. Or can you push charge them, I don't know, so you could still go along push-powered... I have face-planted on a non-electric scooter, but not recently. And this report is from the "National Electronic Injury Surveillance System" so......

        3. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

          "Plus as eScooters are all about the convenience of short term rental, does a 'one size fits all' helmet add extra security, or are we going to get accidents as oversize helmets slip and obscure vision, or hands are taken off handlebars to correct etc?"

          Not to mention hygiene issues. Would you put on a helmet some large number of random strangers have used before you?

          1. GruntyMcPugh Silver badge

            @John Brown, re "random strangers" There's that, and where the helmet will be stored, I presume hung on the handlebars of the scooter, which may just get laid down on the ground, so the helmet will get dirty and have detritus attaching itself.

  2. Charlie van Becelaere

    Drunk or High

    All in all, you'd have to be a damn idiot to ride on those things drunk or high, without a helmet.

    There, fixed that for you.

  3. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    "All in all, you'd have to be a damn idiot to ride on those things drunk or high, without a helmet"

    Well yeah, but it just wouldn't be the same.

  4. Dan 55 Silver badge
    Devil

    It's not the riders I'm bothered about

    Rather the innocent bystanders they plough into.

    1. SonofRojBlake

      Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

      Have you any evidence at all that there's been even one such injury?

      1. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

        Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

        Have you any evidence at all that there's been even one such injury?

        There's lots:

        https://www.independent.co.uk/news/paris-scooters-lime-electric-trottinettes-accidents-a8955561.html

        "Isabelle Vanbrabant was walking home through a park one spring evening in Paris when an electric scooter crashed into her, breaking the pianist’s wrist in two places. Beronique Kilebasa was crossing a street with her seven-week-old baby strapped to her chest when a man riding a similar scooter collided into her, knocking them both to the ground. In another incident, a scooter sped through a red light and straight into an 81-year-old man, killing him."

        1. RegGuy1 Silver badge

          Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

          In another incident, a scooter sped through a red light and straight into an 81-year-old man, killing him.

          What was an 81-year old man doing in the red light district?

      2. james_smith Silver badge

        Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

        Have you any evidence at all that there's been even one such injury?

        Seen it twice in the last couple of months - e-scooters ploughing into pedestrians because the rider ignored the red light at crossings. There again, that's also a common occurence with cyclists ignoring road signals as well, with those riding their own bikes seeming to be worse offenders than those on hire bikes.

      3. Wade Burchette Silver badge

        Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

        Last year, I was driving and almost hit one of these idiots. It was a 25 MPH zone and I was going about that. From over on the sidewalk comes an idiot with one of these things and not wearing a helmet. He darts on to the road, not bothering to look if traffic was coming. I had to slow way down to avoid hitting him. These idiot was weaving erratically, he even ventured into another lane for a bit. Finally after about 30 seconds he decides to look behind him. That when he sees me, and then immediately darts back on to the sidewalk, where he almost hit someone. I didn't see anymore because I was finally able to resume normal speed and escape him.

      4. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: It's not the riders I'm bothered about

        If only there were some readily-available source of such information...

  5. Chris G Silver badge

    e training

    eScooters are just basic training for those interested in achieving Darwin awards.

    I was in Valencia City centre a few days ago where the city council has spent millions on marking out cycle lanes on the broad footpaths, trying to get to the kerb to cross the road can be a bit of a challenge with 30MPH+ eScooters appearing rapidly from nowhere.

    They outnumber the cyclists by quite a margin now, I'd say 80-90% of cyclists wear helmets compared to 20-30% of scooteristas.

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: e training

      I live in València

      Cycling here is very safe. Few cyclists wear helmets. Road cyclists and maintain bikers usually wear helmets, but most people just getting around don't wear helmets.

      Scooters only appear to come from nowhere if you don't look. Crossing roads and cycle paths is very easy just remember the Green Cross Code. Maybe use a crossing.

      I've never seen an eScooter travel at anything close to 30mph here not even on the road.

      The only bad riding I've seen has been by tourists.

      In the actual city centre the roads are mostly narrow and people walk. The extensive and good quality cycle paths and lanes are mostly outside the centre.

  6. Uplink

    Elbow, and not electric

    Meh, I injured myself the old school way: kick scooter (i.e. I was the engine), hit a kerb with my front wheel, flew like Superman, did a screw through the air, landed on my left elbow (dislocation and terrible triad injury). Helmet wouldn't have helped me :)

    Cause: good old speed (the m/s kind, not the kind mentioned in the article) and lack of judgement

    I was seen by an elbow specialist and my healing is astounding after 9 months. Very little loss of range of movement.

    1. John Brown (no body) Silver badge

      Re: Elbow, and not electric

      So, you were under 10 years old back then I assume? Probably healed quite quickly.

      1. Uplink

        Re: Elbow, and not electric

        Nope, I was about 9 months younger than when I wrote the comment. Age: 36. The surgeon said my healing is quite good compared to the average (hey, does anyone want to research my genome to see if I'm special?)

        They say specialist surgeons (elbow in this case) have much better results than general surgeons because they know much better how to put the bones back together rather than randomly glueing them together and calling it a day.

  7. StargateSg7 Bronze badge

    Who clicked on the story just because of the hottie in the photo?

    I DID !!!

    Sex (er....rather the PROMISE of it!) Gets Clicks !!! PERIOD !!!!

    1. seven of five Silver badge

      judging from the suburb, the photo probably was made in germany.

      I´ll spare us the (obvious) comment concerning the third sentence. Consider them made anyway. :)

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Who clicked on the story just because of the hottie in the photo?

      Yes that shiny smartphone is one hottie it is. Wait that wasn't it?

      1. A K Stiles Silver badge
        Joke

        Galaxy Note 7?

    3. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Who clicked on the story just because of the hottie in the photo?

      No helmet, using phone while riding, not looking where she's going? Never found that sort of dumb blonde hot, TBH.

      1. DJV Silver badge

        Never found that sort of dumb blonde hot

        Well, not for long anyway...

      2. Venerable and Fragrant Wind of Change Bronze badge

        Posing for a good fee? Where's the problem?

        No pics of any kind in my RSS feed, from which I clicked through to the article.

  8. RichardB

    Editing?

    Normally a big fan of the publishing here, but, is the Ed still on vacation?

    Why would you trot out lines of stats about the types of injury and then move swiftly into the bold (and apparently unsupported by the stats you just quoted) assertion about head injuries?

    Please, Reg, a little discipline would go a long way.

  9. chivo243 Silver badge
    Facepalm

    Electric Scooters

    Filtering the gene pool even as we speak, right Forest?

  10. werdsmith Silver badge

    I can see a use for them for people with limited mobility but personally I would prefer to walk and not lose out on rare opportunities to exercise.

    1. Doctor Syntax Silver badge

      Most of those with limited mobility would find them particularly difficult to use.

      1. werdsmith Silver badge

        I'm talking about people who get out of breath quickly because of whatever condition.

  11. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    11.2 deaths per 100,000 for Cars in the USA.

    777 fatalities caused by cycling in 2017 (no stats yet for 2018)

    There's also all sorts of statistics you can trot out... if it moves and there's a person on it, chances are it's going to die at some point...

    This is just research for the sake of research (aka mental masturb4tion)

    1. ciaran

      Safest form of transport is....

      Elevators (lifts), apparently. I'd certainly believe it.

      1. chivo243 Silver badge
        Devil

        Re: Safest form of transport is....

        "Elevators (lifts), apparently. I'd certainly believe it."

        Famous last words of one of Simon's managers! I think Stephen had recorded it too!

  12. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    They happen to be illegal to use on anything other than private land in the UK, just like the Segway. Halfords do display this on the very small print on the ones they are selling. Tiny shopping trolley wheels and the typically awful surfaces we have to drive or walk on aren’t a good mix either.

    1. John Robson Silver badge

      Now try getting about on a wheelchair... those front wheels are hell on bad surfaces.

      1. Korev Silver badge

        I'd always assumed that the front wheels of wheelchairs were bigger than the ones on the scooter; is that not the case?

        (Not wanting to doubt your experience in anyway, I'm just curious)

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          They vary - more active chairs have smaller wheels - mine are 120mm.

          I’ve seen smaller and larger wheels on scooters - but you don’t have your knees/ankles providing suspension in the way you would on a scooter - it all goes straight into your body.

          It’s also rarely practical to “get off and walk” so you have to deal with the full length of whatever fancy surface the council decided would look nice, whilst fighting the camber trying to throw you off the curb and into the road (which it doesn’t do to a two wheeled scooter).

          1. Korev Silver badge
            Pint

            Thanks for the explanation John -->

      2. Robert Carnegie Silver badge

        Segway just showed a wheelchair with no front wheels apparently, it just balances underneath you. It looks even more fun than ordinary electric wheelchairs. A visitor at the show joysticked themselves into a wall on it, but even so. In the UK none of this is street legal unless you actually are disabled, I'd sort of like to be for a week just to try out all the various ride-on things.

        1. John Robson Silver badge

          Wheelchairs suck for getting about - if someone is using one then it means it's easier than walking, which says about how hard that person finds walking in the situation where they are using a chair.

          The segway one is probably fine if you have good core strength/control and a working sense of balance.

  13. MiguelC Silver badge
    Joke

    If Apple made e-scooters

    They'd say you weren't falling right

  14. Drew Scriver Silver badge

    Time for El Reg to re-take journalism 101?

    This article is one of the more egregious cases of journo-activism I have seen in a while.

    "222 per cent surge"

    Sound a lot worse than three-fold, doesn't it?

    "The number of hospital admissions from accidents also skyrocketed to almost 3,300, a surge of 365 per cent"

    Yikes - 365 per cent! That's 3,000 compared to... oh wait, let's not report that number.

    "The rate of accidents went up from six per 100,000 riders in 2014 to 19 per 100,000 four years later."

    That's a whopping 0.00019 per cent. Up from 0.00006. For a more meaningful percentage, let's see how many rides (as opposed to riders) result in injuries. According to the article, each riders uses a scooter approximately - er - oh - it doesn't mention the number of rides for each rider.

    Not to worry - we'll just compare it to bike rides, which are somewhat comparable. Oh wait, the article doesn't mention that either.

    “It’s been shown that helmet use is associated with a lower risk of head injury,” said Nikan Namiri, first author of the paper and a medical student at the UCSF School of Medicine. “We strongly believe that helmets should be worn, and e-scooter manufacturers should encourage helmet use by making them more easily accessible.”

    After all, helmets reduce injury by - er - em - well, I guess that's not reported either.

    "79 per cent were under the influence of drugs".

    Now we're getting somewhere. So the 0.00019 per cent would be 0.000038 for those of us who have the wisdom to steer clear of drugs before operating an e-scooter.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge

      Re: Time for El Reg to re-take journalism 101?

      Next thing you know, it'll be found linked to a 48% increase/decrease* in cancer rates, according to a study published in the Daily Mail.

      (*) - Delete one at random

    2. Phil O'Sophical Silver badge

      Re: Time for El Reg to re-take journalism 101?

      "The rate of accidents went up from six per 100,000 riders in 2014 to 19 per 100,000 four years later."

      That's a whopping 0.00019 per cent. Up from 0.00006.

      .019%, up from .006%, and still a factor of x3 increase.

  15. Charlie Clark Silver badge

    Solutionist justification for toy

    “E-scooters are a fast and convenient form of transportation and help to lessen traffic congestion, especially in dense, high-traffic areas,”

    Nope, there's no evidence to demonstrate that scooter journeys replace car journeys. Instead the evidence points to scooters replacing public transport, walking and cycling but also new journeys for generation fun. So more traffic. Oh, and the average life expectancy of the non-recyclable toy is 12 - 8 months.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Mushroom

      Re: Solutionist justification for toy

      > Oh, and the average life expectancy of the non-recyclable toy is 12 - [1]8 months.

      And what's the average life expectancy of the meat-sack it is propelling.....?

      1. Charlie Clark Silver badge

        Re: Solutionist justification for toy

        I think the number of fatal accidents is still low in absolute terms, though there have been some impressive records: first fatal accident in less 48 hours when they were introduced in Sweden. But the injuries are nearly always worse than for cyclists travelling at similar speeds: different centre of gravity, shorter wheelbase with much smaller wheels, different stance. Unles involving a motorised vehicle most cycling injuries are superficial. On a scooter they almost always break of fracture something badly.

  16. Intractable Potsherd Silver badge

    Vaguely relevant story.

    I was in Prague towards the end of last year, and, after a night at the theatre, was waiting for a tram at Staromestska. A person on a rental e-scooter was doing far too high a speed on the pavement (too dangerous for him to be on the road, obviously), showing off with his swerving around obstacles (i.e. people), when suddenly the scooter stopped dead. Physics took over, and said numpty continued on his journey, sans wheels, arms and legs flailing. Probability indicated that either he was going to intercept a) another person, b) a car, c) a tram and/or d) a piece of street furniture, or, worse yet, cause another person to intercept a), b), c), and/or d). Fortunately, chance forewent all of the above, leaving everyone physically unscathed, but I doubt he has forgotten the derisive cheers from the bystanders at the tram stop!

    1. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vaguely relevant story.

      Happened to a colleague in the office on one of those "hoverboards" that are nothing of the sort.

      They'd go really good, then took a corridor with a surface change too quickly, the jolt caused a momentary battery disconnect, with the result that the device just stopped. They didn't...

    2. Anonymous Coward
      Anonymous Coward

      Re: Vaguely relevant story.

      "Look Mum, no hands!" <CRASH> "Look Mum, no teeth."

      1. Michael Wojcik Silver badge

        Re: Vaguely relevant story.

        Baby Silvertooth, she grins and grins.

  17. G R Goslin

    Context?

    has all this been put into context? After all there are thousands of other road/pavement users, who similarly get injured, tripping over their own feet, knocking into other pedestrians, being hit by pushchairs, slipping on wet patches, etc, etc. Singling out a single user type in such a study is totally stupid. Comparisons should be made covering the whole traffic flow. In this I mean the pedestrian traffic flow. Taking the thrust of this article, are the drunk any more liable to injury, e-scooting, or staggering home?

    Viz-a-viz helmets for scooter riders. pedestrians too have been seriously injured, killed by simple falls while walking on the pavements. Are you, collectively, considering that EVERYONE walking the pavements should be clad in helmets, face guards, elbow and knee protectors, heavy gloves, against the risk that they may trip and fall while walking. I've done it, I once caught my toe on a minor upstanding ridge of concrete in a pathway, and went sprawling, to the detriment of elbow, knee and dignity

  18. Maximum Delfango Bronze badge

    If you're thinking of riding one of those things, you are a helmet.

  19. vtcodger Silver badge

    If e-scooters are here to stay

    We need to genetically engineer future humans with thicker skulls and/or integral airbags and/or more flexible bones.

    1. JetSetJim Silver badge
      Coat

      Re: If e-scooters are here to stay

      Around half of all humans could be said to already possess integrated airbags

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    meanwhile in Britain

    we don't have this problem, i.e. pavements turned into junkyards, plus idiots of all ages zooming by, and same idiots (and their victims) in hospitals. Good old Vics and their "outdated" Highway Acts, eh! :)

    Meanwhile in Europe... Hell, I could even claims it's one of the infinitive advantages brought about by BREXIT! ;)

  21. jonfr

    One death in UK because of electric scooter

    There has been one death in UK because of electric scooter. The YouTube person Emily Hartridge died in July 2019 in a electric scooter accident with a car. I think the problem here are the cars not the people on e-scooters but they should have some type of clear marking to make the noticeable (light or such).

    I don't know if there have been any more deaths with e-scooters in recent months when it comes to e-scooters.

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