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How to Not Get Hurt on E-Scooters

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How to Not Get Hurt on E-Scooters

Nov 30, 2018

The presence of electric scooters are increasing in a lot of cities, and with them comes the increase in related injuries coming into ERs. Emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen talks about who's actually getting injured by electric scooters, the types of injuries, and how you can prevent yourself from ending up in the ER.

Episode Transcript

Dr. Madsen: E-scooters and the emergency room, are more people going as a result? We'll find out next on The Scope.

Announcer: This is From the Frontlines with emergency room physician Dr. Troy Madsen on The Scope.

Interviewer: Dr. Troy Madsen is an emergency room physician at University of Utah Health. And in Salt Lake City and a lot of communities, you'll see these e-scooters now. I bet you there's more people going to the ER, because sometimes it looks like maybe the people aren't riding them as safely as they should. Wanted to find out for sure though. Are you seeing more injuries as a result of e-scooters? What's going on in the ER here in Salt Lake?

Dr. Madsen: So in our Emergency Department, we are absolutely seeing more injuries related to e-scooters. I would say now we're seeing an injury related to scooters at least once every other day if not every day in the ER.

We looked at our numbers. We pulled all the records from our Emergency Department from this last summer, and we compared it to the summer before, because e-scooters have become very popular in Salt Lake City this year with a couple of rental companies coming in, and our number of e-scooter related injuries has significantly gone up.

Interviewer: Is it the people that are riding them that are getting hurt, or is it people that are walking and getting hit by somebody that's riding an e-scooter?

Dr. Madsen: You know, interestingly, I didn't see any cases of anyone who reported getting hit who came to the ER.

Interviewer: Hmm.

Dr. Madsen: I thought we would.

Interviewer: Yeah, I would too.

Dr. Madsen: But every one of these injuries we saw this year were people who were getting hurt riding the scooter. Most of these were orthopedic injuries, people injuring their arms, their legs. I suspect what's happening is people are running into trouble on the scooter. Maybe they hit a rock or a curb. They jump off. They're going 15 miles an hour. They try and stop themselves, but you just cannot run fast enough to keep up at that speed, so you're going to fall. And these were broken ankles, dislocated ankles, dislocated/broken wrists, elbows, shoulders, all sorts of orthopedic injuries. Some of these were very serious, where they had to go to the operating room.

We even saw some very serious head injuries as well. Interestingly, when people were asked, "Were you wearing a helmet," I didn't see any cases where anyone said yes. And several people said they were intoxicated while they were on the scooter.

Interviewer: Yeah. That's what I was wondering too. So how many of the accidents are actually intoxicated related versus just somebody who maybe was riding faster than their ability? Because these are new, right?

Dr. Madsen: Yes.

Interviewer: And they do go fast. It would be easy to outride your skill level at this point.

Dr. Madsen: Oh, it absolutely would. So of these, I would say about 20% said they were intoxicated.

Interviewer: Okay.

Dr. Madsen: So a decent number, but, you know, not the majority.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dr. Madsen: But you're exactly right. I think of someone like myself, because most of these injuries were people between the ages of 20 and 50. And for someone like myself, I haven't personally been on a scooter in probably 20 years, and it didn't have a motor on it. So you figure I'm just going to jump on the scooter. It can go 15 miles an hour. You can imagine how you could run into trouble, try and swerve around someone or hit a curb or a rock, and you could run into trouble pretty quickly at that speed.

Interviewer: Yeah. So it sounds like that the solution maybe to this is slow down a little bit. It is good to know that it's not people getting hit, because that would be my fear as a pedestrian.

Dr. Madsen: Exactly.

Interviewer: I would, yeah. So if you're riding the scooter, slow it down. Make sure you're not riding above your skill level, and then also look out. Realize you've got, you know, there's other people there.

Dr. Madsen: Yeah. That's exactly right. My recommendation is take a few minutes just to get comfortable with the scooter. Practice turning on it, getting on and off. These things go 15 ...

Interviewer: Braking.

Dr. Madsen: Braking. Yeah, exactly. I mean they go 15 miles an hour. That's as fast as you ride on a bike.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dr. Madsen: And wear a helmet.

Interviewer: Yeah.

Dr. Madsen: That's the other thing too. If this is part of your daily commute, you ride tracks, you catch a scooter, you go to work a mile away, bring a helmet in your backpack. Put the helmet on. It can make a big difference if you do fall off and hit your head. You'd wear a helmet on a bike. You should wear one on a scooter as well.

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