Just about everything is different this summer, and that goes for electric scooters too.
Our area has more scooters than ever, and they're being used by everyone from visitors to commuters to teenagers—including those who are too young to drive.
Scooters are a convenient car-free way to get around town. They're faster than walking and they don't require the exertion or change of clothes that bike riding calls for.
While they appear safe and fun to use, using an electric scooter can put you at risk for falls and collisions that result in concussions, bone and joint injuries and serious cuts and bruises.
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.
Powered scooters can accelerate up to 15 miles per hour, and they go even faster downhill.
The city of Roanoke prohibits motorized vehicles of all kinds on sidewalks and on the Greenways, and that includes scooters.
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 trauma nurse specialist Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, R.N.
“Traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding and orthopaedic injuries are common injuries resulting from these mechanisms.”
Watch out for inexperienced scooter users when you're driving or walking. Although prohibited under 18, they are very popular among younger teens.
A 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?
Start with situational awareness. 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.
Check out the infographic below for more tips to make your ride fun and safe for everyone.