As companies increasingly offer rental scooters as easy, fast, and cheap alternatives to cars, the number of scooter injuries are on the rise across the nation. A study by researchers from the University of California San Francisco and San Francisco general hospital found that the number of scooter-related injuries grew by 222 percent between 2014 and 2018, while the number of hospital admissions went up by 365 percent. Their research letter has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association Surgery.
The group used data from the U.S. National Electronic Injury Surveillance System for their research. They found that there were more than 39,000 scooter-related injuries reported across the U.S. during the four year period. Scientists estimate there were 19 injuries per 100,000 people in 2018, compared with just 6 injuries per 100,000 in 2014. There was a dramatic jump between 2017, when there were 8,016 injuries reported, and 2018, when there were 14,651.
Researchers found that the most common injuries that occurred during the four-year period were fractures, making up 27 percent of injuries. The next two most common types of injuries were contusions and abrasions, at 23 percent, and lacerations, at 14 percent. Head injuries were one of the most common areas for injury, followed by injuries to the lower extremity. Adults aged 18 to 34 accounted for about a third of the total injuries and 44 percent of injuries that warranted admission to a hospital in 2018.
The rise in these injuries mirrors the rise of e-scooters in recent years. According to the National Association of City Transportation Officials, there were an estimated 85,000 electric scooters for rent in about 100 U.S. cities in 2018. Because the researchers relied on U.S. hospital records, they don’t know the reasons for the injuries. Alcohol, speed, and reckless driving have all been cited as possible factors.