More than 100 cities have electric scooter services that provide convenient transportation especially in high-traffic areas. But many riders of the two-wheeled vehicles are landing in the emergency room, often for head injuries that could have been prevented had they been wearing a helmet.
According to an observational study conducted by researchers with the University of California Los Angeles (UCLA), about 40 percent of e-scooter riders treated at two southern California emergency departments suffered head injuries, but only 4.4 of them wore a helmet. Equally as troubling is that researchers also found that 182 of 193 e-scooter riders they observed were not wearing helmets.
Since Bird planted the first shared e-scooters around Santa Monica in September 2017, the concept has taken off. Bird racked 10 million rides in its first year. Since then, competitors like Lime, Skip and Scoot have helped spread the phenomenon to dozens of other cities across the country. As interest grew, cities have been faced with addressing the safety issues the vehicles pose in a more defensive mode.
E-scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour, which means crashes can cause some pretty nasty injuries to both riders and nonriders. According to the study, head trauma made up 40 percent of the e-scooter injuries researchers found, followed by fractures (31.7 percent) and contusions, sprains and lacerations without fracture (27.7 percent).
Most of the head injuries were minor – without intracranial hemorrhage or skull fracture. But 15 patients were admitted or transferred, including two to the intensive care unit – one for a traumatic subarachnoid hemorrhage and another with a subdural hematoma.
Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) are the most common cause of death and debilitation in bicycle crashes, said Frederick Rivara, MD, PhD, with the University of Washington in Seattle, in an accompanying editorial in JAMA Network Open. Cities have taken steps to reduce risk to cyclists, such as creating bike lanes to separate cyclists from motorists, and requiring cyclists to wear helmets.
E-scooters, however, “turn all of this on its head,” Rivara wrote. “None of the companies that rent these vehicles in the increasingly common hubless system provide helmets. … Just as helmet manufacturers responded to the increased demand for bicycle helmets with new and attractive products priced very affordably, these manufacturers should develop and promote use of helmets appropriate for electric scooters and bikes.”
Source: MedPage Today