Electric Scooters Sent Almost 30,000 People To The ER Last Year
A new study estimated that electric scooters sent almost 30,000 people to emergency rooms in the U.S. in 2019.
The study involved researchers from the Mayo Clinic and the Emory University School of Medicine and was published in The Journal of the American Medical Association on August 31.
The study notes that an increase in electric scooter use started in late 2017 when scooter-share companies started operating in major cities. The purpose of the study was “to assess the incidence of and trends among e-scooter injuries in the U.S. from 2014 to 2019.”
The study estimated that 29,628 electric scooter injuries were seen in emergency rooms in 2019, compared to 4,881 in 2,014, a sixfold increase.
Estimated injuries increased modestly each year until 2017: 5,977 in 2015, 6,366 in 2016 and 8,270 in 2017. Estimated injuries increased sharply in 2018 and 2019, though, apparently due to scooter-share companies operating in major cities. There were an estimated 15,522 electric scooter injuries seen in emergency rooms in 2018.
The most common injuries seen were head injuries, which represented 27.1 percent of all injuries. Around half of the head injuries seen involved a diagnosis which suggested a traumatic brain injury, meaning a head injury diagnosed alongside anoxia, hemorrhage, fracture, internal organ injury or concussion.
“These results are troubling given that helmets are used by a minority of riders, helmet requirements have been eliminated in some areas, and riders often misunderstand road traffic laws that guide e-scooter use,” the study states.
17.4 percent of patients with traumatic brain injury were admitted to the hospital, compared to 7.7 percent of patients who were not diagnosed with traumatic brain injury.
An estimated 2,656 injuries in 2019 involved substance abuse, with 2,340 of them involving alcohol.
The study involved data from the 2019 United States Consumer Product Safety Commission’s National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.
“The estimated incidence of e-scooter injuries treated in [emergency rooms] in the US nearly doubled between 2018 and 2019 despite various regulatory efforts and evidence highlighting this issue,” the study states.
The study notes a possible underestimation of injuries, a lack of data on helmet use and an absence of information outside ER visits as limitations.
The study states that the increase in injuries “appears to be an important public health issue,” urging continued efforts to prevent injuries such as safety education, enforcing laws regarding operating e-scooters under the influence and requiring the use of helmets.