Head injuries, broken bones plague e-scooter users as more data rolls in

Enlarge (credit: Tom Williams| Getty Images)

If you’re going to ride an e-scooter, you really ought to wear a helmet. That’s the main take-home message from a study conducted by the Austin Public Health Department and the CDC, published this week. The data, gathered this fall in Austin, Texas, found that one in every 5,000 rides ended in injury, and 48 percent of those were head injuries. A total of 190 scooter riders were injured during the duration; just one was wearing a helmet.

Depending where you live, you will either be blissfully unaware of dockless electric scooters or completely sick of them. Like the dockless shared bicycles that often precede their arrival, they represent one of Silicon Valley’s bright ideas to solve short urban journeys—so called micromobility— by showing up on city sidewalks overnight, en masse. That’s certainly been the case here in Washington, DC, where it can be hard to walk more than a few feet in some areas without tripping over a scooter from Lime, Uber, or the rest. But in common with many of Silicon Valley’s recent bright ideas, they aren’t without risk.

In January, we reported on a study from Los Angeles that found a high rate of head injuries—and a low rate of helmet use—among injured scooter riders. That research looked at scooter-related injuries seen at a pair of UCLA emergency departments over the course of 12 months. By contrast, this new study examined a much shorter time period in 2018—September 5 to November 30—but cast a wider net, using both county emergency medical service reports and data from nine area hospitals.

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