Electric Scooters Raising Safety Concerns As They Become More Popular

electric scooter safety concernsElectric scooter sharing programs continue to grow at a rapid pace across the country, particularly in larger cities, allowing riders to enjoy a fun, affordable and convenient method of transportation. Sacramento and West Sacramento are two of the latest cities to bring in electric scooters.

The first wave of 100 electric scooters will hit the streets on February 8th. These 100 scooters are being provided by a company called JUMP, which is owned by Uber. Riders can find and reserve a shared electric scooter through the Uber app. The scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour (mph) and will cost 15 cents a minute to rent.

Sacramento Mayor Darrell Steinberg is excited to see electric scooters become a new form of transportation, adding to the variety of ways for people to get around town. Steinberg has also said the city is committed to protecting public safety, including the safety of riders, pedestrians and motorists.

California Scooter Laws

In California, a motorized scooter, also known as an electric scooter, is defined as having two wheels, handlebars, a floorboard designed to be stood on while riding and is powered by a motor (California Vehicle Code (CVC) §407.5).  

Another section of the CVC was amended to address motorized scooters. The changes took effect on the first of the year after being signed into law by Governor Brown in September of last year.

The amendments prohibit anyone from riding a scooter on a highway that has a speed limit above 25 mph unless the scooter is in a Class II or Class IV bikeway. Riders are not required to wear a helmet unless they are 18 years old.

Riders are also restricted from operating a scooter:

  • On sidewalks, unless it is necessary to enter or leave adjacent property
  • At a speed greater than 15 mph
  • With passengers
  • Without a valid driver's license or instruction permit
  • Leave a scooter lying on the sidewalk

This new legislation is meant to help make scooters more competitive with electric bicycles by allowing riders to quickly and easily grab a scooter on the street without having to worry about carrying a helmet around. Scooter rental companies like Uber’s JUMP still advise their customers to wear helmets.

Safety Concerns When Using an Electric Scooter

Local residents have already voiced concerns about rider responsibility and protecting public safety.

For example, Jennifer Donlon Wyant, a public works specialist in Sacramento worries about electric scooter riders behaving recklessly. Riders who fail to follow traffic laws such as stopping at stop signs and traffic signals and traveling with the flow of traffic can put themselves and other motorists, bicyclists and pedestrians in danger.

There are also concerns being raised about riders parking scooters in undesignated areas, such as in front of people’s houses, ramps for people with disabilities, or sidewalks, or locking them to fire hydrants and stops signs. Scooters need to be parked and secured in a bike rack.

According to the Sacramento city ordinance, there is a $27 fine for each abandoned scooter, which Uber (not the rider), would have to pay proposed regulations from the city.

Electric Scooter Accident Injuries

Although electric scooters provide mobility and freedom for many people, they can also be a road hazard for other bicyclists and motorists. Some of the injuries that can be caused by these accidents include lacerations, hand and arm fractures, facial injuries, broken bones, foot injuries, rotator cuff tears and concussions.

A recent Consumer Reports investigation uncovered more than 1,500 electric scooter injuries across the country since late 2017. Investigators contacted 110 hospitals and five agencies in 47 cities to determine how many patients were being treated for scooter-related injuries.

At Grady Memorial Hospital in Atlanta, about 360 people have been treated for injuries caused by scooter accidents while the Vanderbilt Hospital in Nashville has treated at least 250 people with serious injuries.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is also currently working on a study concerning the health risks associated with electric scooters by looking at injuries to riders in the Austin, Texas area.

Contact the Arnold Law Firm for a Free Consultation

As more electric scooters continue to populate the streets, the risk of accidents and injuries goes up. If you have been injured in a scooter-related accident, you could benefit from working with an attorney with in-depth knowledge of state laws and city ordinances and how to apply any of these laws to the specifics of your case.

Our legal team can help you navigate through the entire claims process by conducting a detailed investigation into the cause of your accident and determining the liable party or parties responsible for your injuries. Contact us today for a free consultation to review your case. There are no upfront costs or attorney fees involved unless we recover compensation for you.

Give us a call at (916) 777-7777 or fill out our Free Case Evaluation form today.