Dockless Electric Scooter Injuries in Austin

Rentable scooters are a common sight in Austin and many other cities. These scooters may be rented for short periods of time using an app on a mobile phone. Typically, they have have a very narrow platform where the rider stands with one foot in front of the other. E-scooters can typically travel at speeds up to 15 miles per hour.

The Problem – Scooter Injuries on the Rise in Austin

E-scooters first appeared in Austin in early April of 2018. Since that date, hundreds of thousands of e-scooter trips have been taken. This had a stong correlation with doctors, hospitals, and local emergency rooms seeing an uptick in the number of cases associated with e-scooter-related injuries.

A recent study by Austin Public Health analyzed e-scooter injuries using 271 potential e-scooter injuries. This study reviewed 271 persons with probable e-scooter injures. The general results of this study showed:

  • Age group 18-29 had the highest number of injured riders, followed by riders age 30-39.
  • First-time riders were the most likely to be injured, and injury rates generally decreased with the experience level of the rider.

Common Injuries on e-scooters.

Of the 190 riders injured on e-scooters in the study, nearly half had injures to the head. These included lacerations, abrasions, and fractures to the head. In addition, 70% of riders had injuries to the hands, wrists, arms, and/or shoulders. 55% had injuries to the lower limbs, including the legs, knees, ankles, and feet. A frequent occurrence included injures to the arms, knees, face, and hands.

Of the riders surveyed, over one-third of injured riders broke bones. This statistic did not include breaks to the nose, fingers, and/or toes. 19% of this group had fractures involving multiple regions of the body, with a high number of fractures to the arms and legs. Six people had fractures to the bones of the head.

Severity of e-Scooter Injuries

Nearly half of the riders in this study sustained a severe injury. Such severe injuries included:

  • Broken bones – 84%
  • Nerve, tendon, or ligament injuries – 45%
  • Hospital stay of more than 48 hours – 8%
  • Severe bleed – 5%
  • Organ damage – 1%

Frighteningly, 15% of riders sustained injuries suggestive of traumatic brain injuries. Despite this, less than 1% of riders was found to be wearing a helmet at the time of the crash. 88% of the riders in this study were seen at an emergency room, suggesting a high cost for treatment of e-scooter injuries. 14% of riders were hospitalized. Thankfully, none of the riders involved in the study died.

Where e-Scooter Injures Occur in Austin

Unsurprisingly, most of the e-Scooter injuries in Austin occurred in the downtown and surrounding area. 31% occurred in the area between South Lamar Blvd, Cesar Chavez, IH35, and 12th street. 16% occurred in the UT campus area. In total, nearly half of all injures on e-Scooters were found to have occurred in these areas alone.

Sidewalk versus street injures were broken down as follows:

  • Street – 55%
  • Sidewalk – 33%

A minimal number of injures (8) occurred where no motor vehicles were allowed and there was no path. 4 occurred in parking lots.

Surprisingly, the majority of riders were injured while riding on flat surfaces. Specifically, 65% or riders were injured while traveling on a level surface. Downhill riding resulted in 25% of the injuries, while uphill riding made up only 6% of injuries.

e-Scooter Injuries and Motor Vehicle Involvement

16% of e-Scooter injuries in the study involved motorized vehicles. This included colliding, swerving to avoid, stopping, and jumping off e-Scooters in order to avoid a collision. 10% of riders in the study actually collided with a motor vehicle. As Austin is one of many cities with a vulnerable road user ordinance, one would have hoped the vehicle-related crashes would be lower.

Other Contributing Factors

  • 29% of injured riders reported consuming alcohol within 12 hours of riding
  • 37% reported that excess speed contributed to their injuries (recall that most scooters top out at just 15 miles per hour)
  • 19% believed scooter malfunction contributed to their accident (brakes, wheels, other components failing to work properly)
  • 60% of injured riders received training before riding from the e-Scooter company’s app

Conclusion

While e-Scooters are a convenient means of transportation, they are not 100% safe. Riders should ensure that they are familiar with how to operate these vehicles. They should also ensure that they have the coordination necessary to control the vehicle’s direction and speed. That being said, it is not always rider error that causes a crash. Other drivers, mechanical failures, and hazards on the road are frequent contributor to e-Scooter injuries.

If you or someone you know has been injured in an e-Scooter accident, you should seek immediate medical attention. If your injury resulted from someone else’s negligence (such as a defective vehicle, another driver, or a hazardous situation), you should seek advice from an experienced injury attorney.