Hundreds of people in southern California have been hospitalized due to injuries involving dockless standing electric scooters, researchers wrote in a first-of-its-kind study released Friday.
Published in the latest edition of the Journal of the American Medical Association, the study is the result of researchers at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) scouring a year’s worth of data from two local hospitals to determine how many emergency room visits were related to e-scooters being deployed in major cities.
A total of 249 people were treated at the two hospitals between August 2017 and September 2018 for scooter-related injuries, ranging from minor fractures and sprains, to head injuries and hemorrhaging, the researchers reported.
Comparatively, the same hospitals treated 195 bicycle-related injuries during the same span, the researchers wrote.
The vast majority of the reported scooter injuries – 92 percent – were suffered by riders, while the remaining 8 percent pertained to pedestrians and other nonriders, the according to their report.
Forty percent of patients reported head injuries, yet only 10 of the more than 200 riders reported wearing a helmet at the time they were hurt, the researchers wrote.
“I don’t know if I have a position on the scooter themselves; there’s good and bad as far as technology,” said Dr. Tarak Trivedi, the report’s lead author and a physician at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center in Los Angeles. “But we need to be aware there’s a public health impact,” he told BuzzFeed News.
Researchers scoured ER data from both Ronald Reagan and UCLA Medical Center-Santa Monica for references to “scooter,” as well as the terms “Bird” and “Lime” – the names of two California-based scooter companies collectively valued at over $3.1 billion, the report noted.
“[The study] fails to take into account the sheer number of e-scooter trips taken—the number of injuries reported would amount to a fraction of one percent of the total number of e-scooter rides,” said Paul Steely, Bird’s director of safety policy and advocacy. “Moreover, the report fails to put e-scooter injuries into context as they relate to the high number and severity of injuries and deaths caused by motorcycles and automobiles,” Mr. White said in a written statement, Mashable reported.
“Lime supports the AMA’s recommendations to further innovate helmet designs and for the industry to continue focusing on safety,” said Mary Caroline Pruitt, a representative for Lime. “We look forward to working with the industry, medical community and regulators to create a meaningful ecosystem for this new and evolving technology.”
Launched in September 2017, Bird has facilitated over 10 million scooter rides in more than 100 cities around the world within its first year of operation, the company said previously. Lime, a rival company, has launched “Lime-S” in more than 60 cities in the U.S. and abroad, the researchers noted.