Escooter Injuries Surging, Study Finds

Data underscores need for improved helmet access, authors say.

The JAMA study’s authors urge escooter companies to provide better
The JAMA study’s authors urge escooter companies to provide better.Photo by Jonas Jacobsson on Unsplash

The number of people seeking hospital treatment due to injury on electric scooters rose 365 percent from 2014 to 2018, according to new study in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA).

JAMA conducted the study using data from the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System, which issues estimates of injuries brought into emergency departments across the US.

“We report significant increases in escooter injuries and admissions between 2014 and 2018, particularly over the last year, with people aged 18 to 34 years becoming the most injured group,” the JAMA study states.

JAMA reported a total of 39,113 escooter injuries over the study period. The proportion of those injured riders ages 18 to 34 rose 185 percent, from 582 out of 4,582 in 2014 to 5,309 out of 14, 651 in 2018. Additionally, the proportion of hospital admissions among the age group rose 354 percent, from 30 out of 313 in 2014 to 599 out of 1,374 in 2018.

Of the total injured over the study period, 36 percent were women, JAMA reported. The most common injuries among all injured riders were fractures (27 percent), contusions and abrasions (23 percent), and lacerations (14 percent).

Looking at the 14,651 injuries reported in 2018, 32 percent involved the head, 26 percent involved the upper extremities, and 32 percent the lower extremities. The study summary did not detail the nature of the remaining 10 percent of escooter injuries.

The study’s authors said the frequency of head injuries reported underscores the need for escooter companies to make helmets more accessible for riders.

“Nearly one-third of patients had a head injury, more than double the rate of head injuries experienced by bicyclists,” the report summary states. “A 2019 study found 4.8 percent of injured escooter riders wore a helmet, while a multi-institutional case series reported only 2 percent used helmets. Previous research has demonstrated helmet use is associated with lower risk of head injury. Escooter companies should facilitate and encourage helmet use by increasing helmet access.”