A Salt Lake City hospital has reported a 161% increase in patients rushed into ER over scooter accidents since dockless e-scooters were introduced to the city. And that has people asking: are these things really safe?
The University of Utah Health says that their emergency room has treated 21 patients injured in scooter accidents since they became available in June. But that number only scratches the surface of the total number of scooter-related injuries.
“It’s worth noting that these were only emergency department visits,” Troy Madsen, a doctor in the hospital’s ER, told the Washington Post. “Patients with more minor injuries may have gone to an urgent care, and the patients we saw were probably those with more significant injuries who required a higher level of care in an emergency department.”
The number is way up from last year when only 8 people were injured over the same time period and Dr. Madsen has strongly implied that the newfound popularity of rentable e-scooters is to blame.
“Interestingly, more than 80 percent of the injuries this year happened between Aug. 15 and Sept. 15,” he says, “which would correspond with the increasing popularity and availability of the e-scooters.
Reckless driving to blame for scooter accidents
The e-scooter rental company Bird has responded to the story, saying that the statistics are misleading. The increase in scooter accidents, a Bird spokesman has said, is not a sign that their product is unsafe:
“We understand the temptation to focus on any increase in incidents, but it’s wrong to compare a period when there were no e-scooters to today when they are being used by thousands of riders in dozens of U.S. cities.”
Indeed, the University of Utah Health has not directly accused Bird of making an unsafe product. Instead, they’ve noted that most of the injuries seem to be caused by reckless driving.
The problem, the hospital’s reports suggest, is that people aren’t taking the risk of scooter accidents seriously. Several patients they treated were not wearing a helmet when they were injured, and many more were actually driving the e-scooters while intoxicated.
“Helmets are recommended for use of the e-scooters,” Dr. Madsen says. “I would reinforce this after seeing some of the cases of head injuries that we’ve treated in our emergency department.”
Dave & Dujanovic weigh in
With so many people drinking-and-scooting, is it really safe to let anybody who wants to just hop on these things and ride?
Dave & Dujavonic weighed in on where the responsibility for the accidents really lies. If you missed today’s show on KSL Newsradio from 9:00 – 12:00 AM, you can still hear what they had to say below: