- Electric scooters have been popping up in cities across the U.S.
- But the accessibility of the scooters means there’s also been a spike in injuries related to the devices.
- A new study found that many injured users were riding scooters while intoxicated.
Electric scooters — or e-scooters as they’re often called — have skyrocketed in popularity over the past couple of years.
Hundreds of cities are now home to thousands of the motorized scooters, which are often used by commuters and tourists as a cheap way to zip around town.
However, since their roll out, e-scooters have sent a ton of people to the emergency room. In 2018, we reported on a recent spike in head, wrist, elbow, and hip injuries, thanks to the scooters.
Now, it turns out that a large portion of injured e-scooter riders were actually under the influence of either drugs or alcohol when they took a tumble.
In addition, most scooter riders weren’t wearing helmets at the time of their collision, according to a study recently published in Trauma Surgery & Acute Care Open.
This new research adds to the growing body of evidence that while the rentable vehicles may seem like a fun, safe idea, they have the potential to be dangerous — especially if you’re not sober.
“[The] results of this study support the findings of multiple previous studies looking at injury patterns among riders of e-scooters, and underscore the significant dangers and risk of death associated with the surge in their popularity in the U.S.,” Dr. Robert Glatter, an emergency physician with Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City, told Healthline.
To get more insight into e-scooter injuries, researchers evaluated 103 people who were admitted to major trauma centers due to a scooter accident.
Of the group, about 42 percent had moderate to severe injuries, and 1 was in critical condition.
The vast majority of injuries included fractures to the legs, ankles, collarbone, shoulder blades, and forearms — and about half of the patients with these injuries required surgery.
Spleen, kidney, and neck injuries were observed as well.
On top of all of that, nearly 18 percent of the people had a brain bleed and 17 of them were concussed.
According to the researchers, most of the patients — 98 percent — weren’t wearing a helmet at the time of their accident.
Most of the patients were tested for alcohol, and the researchers found that drug and alcohol use was very common among the injured riders.
About 48 percent of the patients tested for alcohol were way above the legal limit. Nearly 52 percent of those assessed for drug use tested positive.
Tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) — the main psychoactive ingredient in marijuana — was the most common substance used by the riders, followed by methamphetamine and amphetamines.
The study also suggests that e-scooter riders tend to take greater risks than, say, bicyclists or electric bike riders.
E-scooters can typically be dropped anywhere — most of the time, it doesn’t have to be left at a dock or a charging station.
Consequently, many people may come across one on the street and hop on without the proper safety equipment.
“Because of their ease of access, many people see them as an easier solution or more readily accessible than waiting for a taxi, ride-share, or a friend to pick them up. This promotes the mentality that they are a ‘safe solution to getting home while inebriated,’” said Dr. Molly Estes, the clerkship director of the department of emergency medicine at Loma Linda University Medical Center.
In actuality, however, scooting without a helmet at just 15 miles per hour can pack enough of a punch to land you in the intensive care unit with a serious injury, according to Glatter.
Unlike cars, scooters don’t have an airbag or roll cage to protect the body in an accident. Additionally, most cities don’t have dedicated lanes for scooters, causing riders to weave in and around cars.
If you decide to unlock a scooter, it’s crucial to wear protective gear — like a helmet and body pads. Furthermore, no moving vehicles — scooters included — should be used under the influence.
“People should treat e-scooters with the same caution and respect they handle any other motorized vehicle,” Estes said. “If you wouldn’t get behind a car to drive it, then you shouldn’t be driving the e-scooter either.”
These scooters present a new public health threat — and we’re just starting to get a real look at how many scooter-related injuries are taking place across the country.
New research found that many electronic scooter riders who’ve been injured were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of their crash.
Virtually all of them weren’t wearing a helmet.
This adds to the growing body of evidence that the popular e-scooters put riders at risk for a range of severe injuries.