Rented electric scooters provide people with a new convenient way to get around cities. Findings of a new study, however, showed use of these vehicles are taking a toll on public health.
The findings show scooter use is linked to numerous types of injuries, which include dislocated joints, fractures, and head trauma.
Serious Injuries From Electric Scooter Use
In a study published in the journal JAMA Network Open on Jan. 25, Joann Elmore, from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)'s David Geffen School of Medicine, and colleagues examined injuries at two emergency rooms in Los Angeles area, where rental electric scooters first became available.
They found that in just one year, nearly 250 people were sent to the ER for injuries tied to use of electric scooters. The number of injuries is almost the same as those tied to bicycle use seen at the two ER's over the same time period.
Elmore and colleagues also found that 40 percent of those who were sent to the ER suffered from head trauma, 32 percent had bone bone fractures, and 28 percent suffered from cuts, sprains, and bruises.
Only 4 percent of those injured were documented to be wearing a helmet and nearly 11 percent were below 18 years old.
"In this study, helmet use was low and a significant subset of injuries occurred in patients younger than 18 years, the minimum age permitted by private scooter company regulations. These findings may inform public policy regarding standing electric scooter use," the researchers reported.
Safety Measures To Avoid Injury
The researchers said riders could be underestimating the hazards of these vehicles. Elmore said scooters provide a fun and inexpensive way to get around, but riders need to be careful, follow traffic laws, and wear helmet.
Frederick Rivara, from the University of Washington in Seattle, who wrote an editorial accompanying the study, also stressed the importance of scooter riders wearing a helmet.
"In addition, cities that allow these things ought to partner with the companies to try to solve the problem of how to provide helmets for the riders -- with these things being motorized, there's a real need to address this problem," Rivara said.