While walking the streets of Los Angeles, you may have seen someone zoom through an intersection on an electric scooter and thought "That person is going to end up in the hospital." As it turns out, a lot of scooter riders did.
A recent study by UCLA researchers documented 249 total emergency room visits related to scooters at two university hospitals over a one-year period. The researchers looked through medical records at Ronald Reagan UCLA Medical Center and UCLA Medical Center-Santa Monica between September 2017 and August 2018 for notes including the word scooter as well as the popular brands Lime and Bird.
The records show that not only are scooter riders at risk of suffering significant injuries, but that riders put themselves in greater danger by violating the law.
Roughly 40 percent of the hospital visits were related to head injuries. Only 4 percent of riders were wearing helmets, which were required by California law for the majority of the study period. That requirement was changed in September.
The researchers also found "a significant subset of injuries" occurred in riders under 18 years old. Both Bird and Lime have company policies barring minors from riding their scooters.
In addition to looking at medical records, the researchers recorded scooter activity at two busy intersections. Their observations found a significant number of riders violating rules by sharing the scooter with a passenger as well as frequent violation of traffic laws.
The researchers believe the study drastically underestimates the actual number of injuries associated with scooters because the data was limited to two hospitals and didn't include visits to urgent care or primary care doctors.