Scooter Injuries Are Becoming Common At Hospitals

Emergency rooms are seeing people injured on scooters, or by tripping over them, nevertheless there’s no hard data on how many. Officials are looking to start collecting This kind of information as they consider scooter regulations.

Posted on August 20, 2018, at 12:05 p.m. ET




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Earl Wilkinson never imagined his first ride on a Bird This kind of summer would likely end with him flying over the handlebars of his motorized scooter as well as faceplanting into the sidewalk. The 52-year-old was gliding along the street, as instructed by the app, nevertheless after seeing various other riders on the sidewalk, he tried to scoot up the sidewalk ramp — which is actually when he suddenly lost control. Wilkinson torpedoed forward, landing on his head, breaking his arm, knocking out his two front teeth, as well as smashing his glasses. He took an Uber to the emergency room; the next morning, he went to a dentist.

“I cringe thinking of the impact of my nose, face, teeth, mouth, as well as chin on the concrete — then tasting what I thought were salt grains. In fact, they were teeth remnants,” Wilkinson said.


Earl Wilkinson

Earl Wilkinson at his dentist’s office getting his front teeth repaired.

various other stories of gory e-scooter injuries — as well as worse — have been reported; one woman in Cleveland recently died after being hit by a car while on a scooter.

The dockless motorized scooter craze has been controversial as startups Bird as well as Lime have suddenly swept into more cities, without any regulation or approval by the local government. While much of the ire has been directed at how riders leave hundreds of the scooters strewn about sidewalks as well as streets like abandoned flotsam, there’s another scourge: Emergency rooms are taking in lots of people with scooter injuries.

“We are seeing daily injuries by users of the motorized scooters,” Dr. Wally Ghurabi, medical director of the Nethercutt Emergency Center at UCLA Medical Center in Santa Monica, California, told BuzzFeed News, “as well as some injuries to pedestrians who were hit by riders or tripped over scooters left on sidewalks.” In nearby Venice, California, Venice Urgent Care confirmed they get “a lot” of people with scooter injuries.

“We are seeing daily injuries by users of the motorized scooters.” 

nevertheless the number of injuries is actually hard to quantify. Police in Dallas say just four people have called 911 for an electric scooter accident since Bird as well as Lime motorized rideshare scooters showed up in late June. The others, like Wilkinson, end up from the ER, although without a standard way to classify such injuries, that will’s unclear just how many.

Despite the lack of official data, doctors, city officials, as well as riders that will BuzzFeed News spoke with all agreed: They just don’t know how safe these things are.

Such information is actually at This kind of point being sought as officials mull scooter regulations.

“Scooters have been off the street of San Francisco for a few months at This kind of point, nevertheless you absolutely saw several people coming in to several of our centers subsequent to scooter injuries,” said Brandon Hastings, chief operating officer of Golden Gate Urgent Care, which operates several locations in San Francisco. “We absolutely saw several people coming in to several of our centers subsequent to scooter injuries — most of them involving the inability to stop quickly to avoid collision.”

Some scooter victims are seeking legal representation. Personal injury attorney Catherine Lerer of the firm McGee Lerer in Santa Monica has taken on approximately ten clients with scooter injuries such as a broken leg, a broken tooth, a torn rotator cuff, or broken foot. Some of these involve a malfunction, like a wheel locking up or the handlebar stem collapsing, she claimed. One of her clients, a mechanic who works on repairing Birds, fell while testing a scooter that will turned out to have no brakes, resulting in a broken collarbone as well as staples to the scalp.

Lerer also points out that will there are vandals who purposely smash or break scooters, because they’re unpopular. “My big concern is actually Bird as well as Lime don’t inspect them between rides,” she said. Lime says they do daily inspections as well as maintenance; Bird said they also repair daily.

Several of Lerer’s cases involve elderly people who tripped over parked scooters. While none of her clients have filed a lawsuit yet, she expects to ask for damages ranging between $25,000 as well as $250,000.

While motorized scooters are hailed by some as a fun, affordable, as well as environmentally-friendly way to get around, many riders discover scooter-riding in traffic isn’t as intuitive they expected (accelerate with your right hand, brake with your left), as well as no one seems sure how to integrate them into cities’ existing transportation infrastructure.

The tactic scooter companies like Bird as well as Lime have taken — flooding cities with the vehicles overnight, unauthorized — suddenly creates an army of rookie riders who, dangerously, don’t quite fit into their cities’ existing rules of getting around. By renting them out cheap as well as removing the bar of ownership, these companies give anyone using a smartphone the ability to get behind the wheel.

While Bird as well as Lime scooters are too fast for sidewalks, at a max speed of 15 mph, they are also slow for streets as well as bike lanes. There’s also a learning curve for car drivers to get used to seeing them as well as for riders to learn how to control them. Not to mention that will helmet usage among users is actually inconsistent.

“Safety is actually a top priority for Bird,” CEO Travis VanderZanden said in a statement to BuzzFeed News. “The well-being of our riders is actually something we’ve worked to protect through concrete action, including: throttling the speed to a 15 mph maximum, requiring riders to upload a driver’s license as well as confirm they are 18 or older, providing an in-app tutorial on how to ride a Bird as well as how to park that will, as well as posting clear safety instructions on each Bird.”

A spokesperson for Lime said, “We instruct riders to practice safe riding using helmets both through notices on the app as well as on the actual scooter. In order to unlock a Lime scooter for initially, all riders must go through an in-app tutorial that will includes helmet safety.”

Still both companies’ user agreements warn that will riding their scooters includes risk of injury, that will the machines may malfunction, as well as that will the rider agrees to accept full responsibility just for This kind of should anything happen. as well as while both Lime as well as Bird say in their user agreements that will users should report injuries to the companies, neither provided data to BuzzFeed News about reports they had received.

Despite these warnings, Dr. Ghurabi said after scooters took off, “you’d see [injuries] once or twice a week at first, as well as at This kind of point that will’s almost a daily occurrence.”

Yet scooter injuries are not being tracked at emergency rooms or doctor’s offices. Dr. Ronn Berrol, medical director of the Alta Bates Summit Emergency Department in Oakland says his hospital is actually “for sure” seeing people come in with injuries by scooters, although the way hospitals as well as emergency rooms classify injuries — using codes for “mechanical fall” or “pedestrian fall,” for instance — doesn’t include scooter accidents yet.

“that will’s where we’re lagging behind as well as underreporting This kind of kind of stuff,” said Berrol.

Officials are eager to get their hands on This kind of information as they consider imposing brand-new scooter regulations. In San Francisco, where the city has banned the scooters, health officials at are planning a way of tracking scooter injuries.

Megan Wier of the San Francisco Public Health Department told BuzzFeed News that will her team is actually working with police as well as the Zuckerberg General Hospital as well as Trauma Center to create a way of tracking scooter accidents as well as injuries. The challenge is actually creating one uniform system. “Everyone just has their own perspective of the issue. Police have their own forms that will they’ve been using,” she said. “When people are coming to the hospital, that will’s different than an investigation on the scene of an accident. So hospital staff have different exposure.” Their tracking system will start running in a few weeks.

Meanwhile on the East Coast, Jan Devereaux, the vice mayor of Cambridge, MA where scooters just showed up, told BuzzFeed News she’s particularly worried about how scooters will fare on Massachusetts streets, which tend to get ripped up as well as perilously full of potholes by the ravages of cold winters as well as snowplows. Cambridge has banned the scooters until that will can set a September council meeting to discuss regulation. “I don’t think the injury risk is actually reason to ban scooters,” Devereaux said. “Remember the craze for rollerblades? People wore knee, elbow as well as wrist pads! nevertheless I sure trust scooter enthusiasts will realize they have to be careful.”

“I think there’s blood on the hands of every city that will allows them to operate – knowing how many riders as well as pedestrians are being injured – as well as fails to enforce the laws as well as fails to enforce helmets or riding on the sidewalk,” said Lerer, the attorney.

Nearly a year after Bird scooters first hit Santa Monica, the city is actually starting a pilot program to limit as well as study the rideshare scooters. This kind of week, Bird as well as Lime encouraged their riders to show up to City Hall to protest the proposal to limit the pilot program to just Uber’s Jump scooters.

One ardent scooter fan told a BuzzFeed News reporter on the scene that will even though he had gotten badly scraped (though not enough to go to an ER) after being hit by a texting driver, he still showed up in support of Bird as well as Lime, carrying his own homemade “Limes Aren’t Lemons” sign.

Even Earl Wilkinson, after faceplanting, hasn’t totally soured on the scooters. “Ask me to get on one at This kind of point? Hell no. I can still imagine the faceplant into the concrete sidewalk,” he told BuzzFeed News. “Ask me in a month or six months.”

CORRECTION

Brandon Hastings, the chief operating officer of Golden Gate Urgent Care, was misidentified in a previous style of This kind of post.

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