Scooters have been around a long time. For much of their history they have been a vehicle for child’s play. In recent years, though, the advent of microelectronic motors, batteries and ride-sharing services have sparked an explosion in scooter usage in cities across the U.S., and with it has come a new source of concern about public safety.
Emergency room doctors in many cities around the country report steep increases in the numbers of people coming in for treatment after suffering injuries in scooter accidents. Some of them are relatively minor. Others are more serious. At least two recent deaths are attributed to the collisions involving rental e-scooters and vehicles, and experts observe that the victims in these cases were not kids, but adult riders.
The providers of the scooters and most experts suggest that the biggest threat from the scooters is not the devices themselves. Despite their ability to go up to 15 mph and that most riders ignore recommended precautions, like wearing bike helmets, experts say cars, pedestrians and bad riding surface conditions all combine to increase risks.
The sudden appearance of scooters on streets from such companies as Bird and Lime has left many cities playing catch up on how regulate them. West Palm Beach is under a 180-day moratorium on such services while city leaders develop rules. Palm Beach took similar action recently. In addition to rider safety, officials express concern that, unlike bike share services that have designated pick-up and drop-off areas, a shared scooter winds up wherever the last rider leaves it, creating problems for pedestrians.
The purpose of this post is not to argue for or against this new mode of transport, but only to highlight how it’s arrival puts new demands on us all to be more alert and to navigate defensively. And if someone’s negligence results in serious or fatal injury, victims should not be shy about consulting experienced legal counsel to understand their rights and options for seeking compensation.