Austin Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) published a study last week that examined e-scooter-related injuries in the Austin, Texas metro region between September 5 and November 30, 2019. The results are shocking — at least, for those not painfully familiar with the recklessness of e-scooter riders.
- The CDC and Austin Public Health have released a study on e-scooter related injuries
- One in 5,000 riders were injured on e-scooters, almost half received head injuries
- The study included individuals injured by others riding e-scooters as well
- of those injured, 35% suffered broken bones – toes and fingers were not counted
- a Full 38% of those injured, said they would ride an e-scooter again
During that period, one in 5,000 riders was injured on an e-scooter. According to the study, 48% of those were head injuries. And of those only one rider was wearing a helmet.
Using data from county emergency medical reports and nine area hospitals, the study authors were able to confirm 160 e-scooter-related injuries. Another 32 injuries were identified as probably related to e-scooters. Not all e-scooter-related injuries were riders: One was a pedestrian and another was a cyclist. Presumably, they were struck by an e-scooterist.
Of those e-scooter-related injuries, study authors attempted to reach all 190 identified injured Austinites. However, only 125 users were able to be contacted for further information about the nature of their accident.
From this follow up, they were able to determine that 55% of those injured on e-scooters were male. And 48% were between the ages of 18 and 29. A third were injured on their first ride. Thirty percent had ridden an e-scooter fewer than 10 times before their injury.
Seventy percent were injured in their upper limbs, and 56% were injured in their lower limbs — toe and finger fractures were not counted. Thirty-five percent broke a bone, and 19% broke more than one bone.
Fifty-five percent were riding on the street, while 33% were riding on the sidewalk.
Amusingly, 38% said they’d ride an e-scooter again.
My knee-jerk reaction to this study is to conclude that e-scooters are our generation’s lawn darts. By that I mean, in a decade (or less) we’ll look back and wonder how such devices were ever allowed in the hands of the general public. That, of course, is a reactionary and unrealistic verdict. I have higher hopes for e-scooters. We just have to get through the ugly, early part.
In reviewing this study, I can’t help but wonder if we’re simply going through the drug-legalization phase of e-scooter ridership. By that I mean, I wonder if this initial rollout invites the craziest most irresponsible usership.
Think about it. Right now, e-scooters are a hot new fad. The quick, nimble and widely accessible e-scooters invite would-be daredevils to use them haphazardly. That’s because there’s nothing stopping them from doing so.
Eventually, the novelty will wear off. The devil-may-care attitude will likely subside. Due to both a wakeup call, like this study, anecdotal evidence of injuries suffered, and — most importantly — legislation. And we’ll be left with those of us actually keen to utilize e-scooters the way they’re intended: as an effective micro mobility solution capable of whisking riders to their final destination with ease.
I mean, at least I hope so. Because it would be awfully sad to see e-scooters routinely misused long enough that they need to be removed from city streets. I believe these devices, due to their size and efficiency, could be a linchpin in the future of environmentally urban mobility. It’d be a big setback to lose them due to some bad actors.