It’s a good idea to wear a helmet when taking a spin on electric scooters, electric bikes, hoverboards and other so-called micro-mobility products. That’s because injuries stemming from their use spiked 70% over the past four years, spurring nearly 200,000 emergency room visits, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission.
Viewed as eco-friendly (studies have found that’s not exactly the case) and cost-effective modes of transportation for short distances, the battery-powered products were part of the equation in more than 190,000 E.R. visits and at least 71 deaths from 2017 through 2020, according to the federal agency.
Injuries involving the products have steadily risen, causing 34,000 trips to the hospital in 2017 and 57,800 last year, the CPSC noted in a recent release highlighting data from a not-yet-released report.
E-scooters are the biggest culprit in more people getting hurt, accounting for 25,400 ER visits last year, three times the 7,700 ER trips involving e-scooters in 2017, CPSC said.
Small, quick and silent, electric-powered scooters can be a fun and efficient way to get around, but unsafe riding and collisions can result in serious injury or death.
That hazard extends to pedestrians, a danger illustrated by the death of actress Lisa Banes after getting hit by an e-scooter while crossing the street in New York City in June.
In a separate report on the subject, released last year, the CPSC found break problems to be a common issue in accidents involving e-scooters, while fire was a common hazard with hoverboards.
The hoverboard craze that swept the country in 2015 and 2016 landed more than 26,000 children in hospital emergency rooms during that time, according to a study published in the journal Pediatrics.
The CPSC findings last year found multiple deaths occurring after e-bike and e-scooter riders were hit by other vehicles including trucks. One 43-year-old e-biker died of head injuries after crashing into a pedestrian in a crosswalk in August 2019.
None of the products require a driver’s license to operate, and app-based services offering e-scooters and e-bikes for rent have increased their availability and use, leading to parking and other hassles for many cities and communities.
The CPSC is working with ASTM International and Underwriters Laboratories to develop and improve voluntary standards to address the mechanical, electrical and human factors that make the products hazardous.
Beyond wearing a helmet, the agency advises e-scooter riders to check their scooters for damage, which can lead to loss of control and crashes.
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