The Scooters Are Coming!

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on April 19, 2019

Electric scooters are on their way to our region, and with them concussions, bone and joint injuries and serious cuts and bruises that result from falls and collisions.

The scooters are an inexpensive and convenient car-free way to get around town, and they’re popular with commuters and tourists. Using one allows you to reach your destination faster than by walking, and without the exertion or change of clothes needed for bike riding.
 
To use one, you need to download the company’s app onto your smartphone and confirm that you have viewed the in-app tutorial, but neither specialized training nor helmets are required, and that’s where the trouble can start.

electric scooter lying abandoned on its side in the street in front of a city bus
Road hazards range from cars, trucks and buses to pebbles and manhole covers.

Powered scooters can accelerate up to 15 miles per hour, and they go even faster downhill.
 
The city of Roanoke is amending its code to clarify that powered scooters cannot be used on sidewalks. They will also be prohibited on the Greenways, as all powered vehicles are.

That’s great news for pedestrians, but it means that the scooters will be sharing space with cars and trucks. 

“Vehicle-related trauma and ground-level falls are the two leading causes of admission to Carilion Roanoke Memorial Hospital trauma services,” said Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, R.N., Carilion Clinic’s trauma outreach coordinator.

“Traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding and orthopaedic injuries are common injuries resulting from these mechanisms.”

 Powered scooters can accelerate up to 15 miles per hour, and they go even faster downhill.

A recent study by Consumer Reports found a minimum of 1,500 documented scooter injuries since they came on the scene in late 2017.
 
“The total number of injuries is unquestionably higher because so many hospitals don’t have the medical record capability yet to accurately track specific scooter-related injuries,” the report said.
 
A study in southern California found that only four percent of Emergency Department patients with e-scooter injuries had been wearing a helmet.

So what can you do to keep yourself and those around you safe when trying out an e-scooter? 

round no scooters sign with red slash over icon of powered scooter
Roanoke City officials are amending city code to clarify that powered scooters will not be permitted on sidewalks or the city's Greenways.

Dress the Part
The American Medical Association recommends wearing helmets, elbow pads, knee pads and closed-toe shoes. Sarah Beth also recommends long sleeves and pants that can help protect against abrasions if you do fall. 

Watch the Clock
Avoid rush-hour traffic and other times when a lot of people are on the road.
 
Watch the Weather
You probably won’t be tempted to use powered scooters when it’s snowing or raining, but Sarah Beth also recommends avoiding times when the sun is blinding or makes it more difficult to see.
 
Watch Everything Else!
Being aware of your surroundings can keep you safer no matter how you’re getting around town.
 
“Keep your eyes on the road and be alert to changing surfaces as well as traffic,” said Sarah Beth.
 
Pebbles, potholes and uneven surfaces can knock you off balance, on to the ground or potentially into traffic.
 
“Keep in mind that other drivers may not see a person on a scooter or may not be aware of traffic laws regarding scooters,” said Sarah Beth. 

Be Courteous
When you are finished riding, don't leave your scooter where it will block someone else's path or require others to go around or over it.

And finally, don’t ride at night or while impaired in any way.
 
If you do have an accident, get medical care right away from your primary care provider, an urgent care center such as VelocityCare, or the Emergency Department. The symptoms of concussion may not appear for hours to even days later, but early treatment is important.