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Electric scooter safety in question

Electric rental scooters are seemingly everywhere. New York prides itself on offering a variety of transportation options. Bird, Lime and other electric scooters are a viable mode of transportation in certain areas of the city. But studies have shown that riding these scooters in a congested urban environment comes at substantial risk.

In fact, operators have collided with cars, trucks, pedestrians, curbs, drain pipes and a multitude of other road and environmental hazards. The injury statistics for electric scooters are quite alarming, so be focused and aware of your surroundings when you're operating one.

What the studies show

According to the Washington Post report, the medical journal JAMA documented injury statistics from September 2017 to August 2018 and found that any scooter injuries were serious, such as lacerations, sprains, contusions and head injuries. In the same report, Los Angeles emergency departments have treated substantially more scooter riders for injuries over a one-year period than bicyclists. Some injuries have left operators permanently disabled while others have been life threatening.

Complex vehicles

Electric scooters are complex electrical/mechanical vehicles, and as such, these vehicles can malfunction and fail. When an inexperienced operator is riding a failing or malfunctioning scooter, a severe or life threatening crash can be the result. 

If the rental company has not identified a scooter in need or maintenance or repair, a scooter may not be road worthy and could be quite dangerous. Sometimes riders underestimate the skill and attention required to safely operate the vehicle, and they lose control with catastrophic consequences.

Scooter safety checklist

If you choose to rent and ride a scooter, then follow these steps to ensure your trip is an enjoyable and safe one.

  • Frame and deck: A used and abused scooter can suffer a cracked or broken frame. If this is the case, it’s not road worthy
  • Take a 100-foot test ride at a slow speed
  • Test brakes: Ensure the brakes operate progressively and positively to stop the scooter
  • Evaluate throttle: Make sure the throttle is smooth and predictable, no sticking or abrupt acceleration
  • Inspect the handlebars and steering post: Ensure these vital components do not have broken fasteners or other visible damage

If the scooter does not operate properly or safely, park it back at the station and try another scooter. Riding a scooter to a destination should be a safe and controlled experience, not a harrowing white-knuckle ordeal.

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