According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, Americans took 38.5 million trips on scooters in 2018. E-scooters arrived in Dallas in 2018. If you don’t already have them, chances are, they’re coming to a city near you. Several companies have unleashed thousands of scooters for hire on city streets throughout the United States. Due to an array of factors, electric scooter injuries are quite common.
How Do Paid E-Scooters Work?
For a fee, you can unlock an e-scooter from a docking location. The cost to access the scooter is small, around $1. Then, you pay a small fee for the time that you have the scooter. When you’re done, you return it to another docking station in the city.
Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
The Texas Public Health and Transportation Departments in Austin, Texas studied the safety of e-scooter use. They found that there is one injury for every 5,000 e-scooter trips. Half of the injuries are head injuries, and 15 percent of the injuries are traumatic brain injuries. In addition, Mercury News reports a 160 percent increase in emergency room visits for e-scooter accidents in one year. Because e-scooters can be dangerous, they remain controversial in Texas and the United States.
Why Are E-Scooters Dangerous?
Here are some of the reasons that e-scooters are dangerous:
Riders don’t know traffic laws
Should an e-scooter rider follow the rules for vehicle traffic? Do they follow the laws for pedestrians? Many riders don’t know. E-scooter riders may try to weave in and out of traffic. They may try to travel in and around pedestrians and disobey stop signs that apply to foot traffic. When scooter riders don’t know what laws to follow, vehicle traffic and pedestrians alike don’t know what to expect when they see a scooter. Not knowing what laws to follow can create chaos and erratic behavior on already crowded city streets.
Congestion on the roads
The streets of Dallas are already crowded. City planners didn’t count on e-scooters when they designed streets and made rules for the flow of traffic. E-scooters add to already-crowded city streets. The extra congestion for busy commuters may only add to the number of accidents.
Differences in speed
E-scooters travel faster than walking pace. In fact, an e-scooter may travel up to 20 miles per hour. When people on scooters are travelling much faster than the pedestrians around them, riders and pedestrians alike may not be able to respond to the actions of other types of traffic. For example, the person on the scooter may not be able to stop in time to avoid hitting a person on foot. Pedestrians may not be able to move fast enough when a scooter is in their path. Differences in speed can interrupt the flow of traffic and cause accidents.
You can unlock and ride a scooter for hire without any previous experience. You don’t have to pass a driver’s test or even watch a video on how to travel safely. Rider inexperience can be a serious problem for e-scooters on city streets. Riders may not know how to react to changing circumstances or what to do in case of an emergency.
Lack of helmets
Despite evidence that helmets prevent significant injury, most e-scooter riders don’t wear helmets. Not wearing a helmet makes a brain injury more likely to happen, and it can make an existing injury much worse. Even though most e-scooter companies recommend wearing helmets, however, they are usually not provided with the scooters.
Dangers from motorists
Not all of the dangers on the road are created by the scooters and their riders. Many of the dangers are created by motorists. Drivers of motor vehicles may not be looking out for scooters. They may not change their speed to account for scooter travel and the amount of traffic. Too often, motorists may be responsible for creating dangers for scooter riders.
Lack of protection from a vehicle
E-scooters are dangerous because they don’t provide the same protections that a motor vehicle offers. When a person is in an accident in a motor vehicle, they have a large vehicle around them. That vehicle acts as physical protection for the occupant in case of an accident. However, when an accident involves a person on the scooter, the rider has nothing to protect them. The result may be that the victim’s injuries are more serious than they might have suffered in a motor vehicle accident.
Not all riders understand that riding a scooter can be dangerous. They may be rushing to work, or they might just pick up the scooter for a little fun. The result can be inattention to the task at hand. Distracted riding can be a problem for scooter riders as well as for motorists and pedestrians that share the streets.
E-Scooters and Helmets
Even though accidents are common for travelers using e-scooters, only one in 190 riders wear a helmet. Helmets aren’t available for immediate rental like the scooters are themselves. Wearing helmets could prevent many of the serious injuries that occur on scooters. But most riders choose to take the risk of sustaining a serious injury by riding without a helmet.
Dallas E-Scooter Laws
Many people don’t realize that Dallas has laws in place for e-scooter use. It’s illegal to ride an e-scooter on a sidewalk or city trail within the City of Dallas. People can file reports if they see scooters where they shouldn’t be. The company that operates the scooter must respond by picking up the scooter from the prohibited area within a prescribed period of time.
Your Rights When You’re Hurt in an E-Scooter Accident
If you’re hurt in an e-scooter accident, Texas negligence laws apply to you. You may deserve financial compensation from the negligent party who caused your injuries. Compensation may include economic and non-economic damages, including pain and suffering.
Any accident claim can be complex. Don’t assume that you don’t deserve financial compensation or that your case isn’t worth pursuing. An experienced attorney for e-scooter accidents can help you investigate your case, evaluate your options, and seek justice.
Author Info: Jack Bernstein is a Miami, Florida medical malpractice lawyer with over 36 years of experience helping victims of medical negligence.