The Scooters Are Here!

Laura Mitchell's picture
By Laura Mitchell on October 28, 2019

Electric scooters have arrived in our region, and with them the potential for falls and collisions that result in concussions, bone and joint injuries and serious cuts and bruises.

The scooters are a convenient car-free way to get around town, and they’re popular with commuters and tourists. They're faster than walking and they don't require the exertion or change of clothes that bike riding calls for. 

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.

electric scooter lying abandoned on its side in the street in front of a city bus
Road hazards range from cars, trucks and buses to pebbles and manhole covers.

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 Sarah Beth Dinwiddie, R.N., Carilion Clinic’s trauma outreach coordinator.

“Traumatic brain injuries, internal bleeding and orthopaedic injuries are common injuries resulting from these mechanisms.”

 Powered scooters can accelerate up to 15 miles per hour, and they go even faster downhill.

A recent 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.

And if you do have an accident, get medical care right away from your primary care provider, an urgent care center such as VelocityCare, or the Emergency Department.