- Electric Scooters Might Be More Dangerous Than You Think
Electric Scooters Might Be More Dangerous Than You Think
They’re designed to be seen.
Neon green Limes, bright orange Spins, and canary yellow Bolts.
Whatever their colors, electric scooters (a.k.a. e-scooters) are popping up on streets and sidewalks throughout Detroit, Ann Arbor, Lansing, Flint, and Grand Rapids … and they’re scattered willy-nilly across the rest of the state (and much of America), too.
But despite their shocking color schemes, sometimes e-scooters seem to be nearly invisible. Just ask some of the dozens of Detroiters (and many other Michiganders) who’ve suffered severe trauma — including major head injuries — in e-scooter-related accidents since this new mode of personal transportation was introduced locally several years ago.
Henry Ford Health System takes those e-scooter accidents seriously. So much so, in fact, that they recently conducted a scientific study of e-scooter-related injuries. Among their findings: since the popular ride-sharing e-scooters were introduced to Southeastern Michigan about four years ago, injuries have spiked dramatically. For example, the Henry Ford study indicated that head and neck injuries have risen 450 percent since 2017, and include brain injuries (such as concussions), lacerations, and broken bones. Contrary to what you might imagine, the study also points out that older riders (ages 18-44) are more likely to be involved in e-scooter accidents than riders age 17 and younger.
E-scooters are spreading as fast as lightning …
and some celebrated names are backing them
Despite the potential dangers of electric scooters, Olympic champion Usain Bolt wasn’t too shy to lend his name to Bolt Mobility. He’s co-founder of the company that’s behind the bright yellow scooters. You probably won’t see many Bolts in Michigan yet, but they’re already easy to find in such cities as Miami, FL; Washington, DC; Portland, OR; and even smaller places like Durham, NC.
Bolt isn’t the only famous name tied to e-scooters. Ford Motor Company is the owner of the Spin scooters, which are prevalent in Detroit as well as more than a dozen other major cities including San Francisco, Los Angeles, Baltimore, and St. Louis. In fact, Spin had expected to reach more than 100 cities according to the company’s 2019 plans, until the pandemic slowed expansion plans to some extent. However, with the pandemic apparently becoming less severe in much of the county, e-scooter growth has recently resumed in such places as San Diego, CA, and Boise, ID, among others. And a Spin pilot program is also underway right now in Grand Rapids.
E-scooter numbers continue to quickly expand
… but can the laws keep up?
As e-scooters proliferate, it is important to know that they are in fact governed by laws and ordinances intended to safeguard riders and also to ensure that motorists aren’t negatively impacted by scooter mania. In Detroit, for example, it’s illegal to drive e-scooters on roads unless you stay in designated bicycle lanes; e-scooters can also be driven on sidewalks in the Motor City
Statewide, Michigan law considers e-scooters to be “electric skateboards” and specifically limits their allowable speed to 45 miles per hour, though most of the currently available e-scooters can not even approach such high speeds. Furthermore — parents take note — Michigan does not allow anyone under age 12 to operate an electric skateboard (hence an e-scooter as well).
Since many cities and states across the country have instituted specific ordinances and laws regulating e-scooter use, it would be a good idea to check local rules if you plan to use this mode of personal transportation on a summer vacation or weekend getaway. Unagi Scooters, which markets e-scooters for personal use, has also assembled a comprehensive compilation of national e-scooter laws you might find helpful if you plan to travel.
How to stay safe on an e-scooter
Whatever you decide, be sure to take steps to ensure yourself the best chance to ride without being injured. The Grand Rapids pilot program recommends the following safety tips, which were developed by the Michigan Secretary of State’s office:
- Always ride WITH other traffic
- Obey the same rules of the road as any other vehicle operator, including all traffic signs, lane markings and signals, and use hand signals to indicate turns, slowing or stopping
- Wear bicycle helmets and reflective clothing
- Stay as far to the right as practical when riding in traffic lanes
- Do not ride more than two abreast in a single lane, and only do so if it does not interfere with the normal flow of vehicular traffic
- Avoid entering the roadway without first stopping to look for vehicles
- Ride predictably and defensively, and do not ride while drunk or distracted
- Always yield to pedestrians
- Have a white front headlight and a red rear reflector if riding after dark or in low light conditions
The helpful doctors at Henry Ford Health System also have some advice for riding an e-scooter safely. They recommend the following:
- Bring your own safety gear including a helmet, knee and elbow pads
- Wear appropriate clothing that won’t constrict your body while riding
- Understand the specifications, features and capabilities of the e-scooter you will be riding
- Observe traffic laws, focus on the path ahead and watch for pedestrians, cars and other obstacles
Needless to say, bicyclists, pedestrians, motorists, and especially folks who ride e-scooters, are all affected when there’s an accident involving one or more of these modes of transportation. And generally, the larger the vehicle, the greater its impact can be on other human beings. So, if you have been hurt in an accident while riding an e-scooter, we are here to help. Our team of legal professionals are experienced in Michigan electric scooter accidents and will handle your case with skill and compassion, advocating for your right to compensation. Contact us 24/7 at 855-MIKE-WINS (855-645-3946) or email us to set up a free consultation.