E-Scooters Are Everywhere. With That, a Disturbing Trend

Number of injury cases has tripled over 5-year period
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Jan 9, 2020 12:40 PM CST
Time for Helmets? Scooter Head Injuries On Rise
Shareable electric scooters under the brand name Lime wait on sidewalks for pedestrian use on Oct. 2, 2019, in Cincinnati.   (AP Photo/John Minchillo)

An "explosion" of electric scooter riders has led to a more disturbing (but maybe not surprising) spike. The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the number of injuries caused by the two- or three-wheeled vehicles tripled in five years' time, per a study published in the JAMA Surgery journal. Researchers from the University of California-San Francisco pulled figures from a national database from 2014 through 2018, looking at nonfatal injuries documented at 100 ERs around the US, and found almost 40,000 cases of bruises, cuts, broken bones, and head injuries during that period, per the AP. In fact, almost a third of the documented injuries were head injuries, a number that could be reduced if riders wore helmets, which some city officials think should be a requirement.

"If I had my way ... it would be mandatory," San Francisco Supervisor Norman Yee tells the Chronicle. Study lead author Benjamin Breyer says it could just be a matter of shifting public opinion, comparing it to what happened in the skiing arena after a few headline-making accidents. "If you go out skiing, today on the slopes everybody is wearing a helmet," Breyer tells the Sacramento Bee. "If the public is aware and there is a culture of wearing helmets, people will do it." The overall injury rate leaped from 6 per 100,000 people to 19 per 100,000, and the number of cases requiring hospitalization jumped to 3,300, a 365% increase. (More scooters stories.)

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