News Room

E-Scooter Safety Concerns

Written on behalf of Brian S. Kabateck

November 8, 2018

We are seeing a dramatic rise in the use of the electric scooters and segways as more cities embrace the use of environmentally conscious transportation. While these vehicles may reduce automobile traffic and parking problems, consumer advocates warn there are inherent safety risks not only for the rider, but for those around them as well. Segways have had accidents that have resulted in death, which is why some people are opposed to the growing trend. Although the vehicles are marketed as safe and easy to use, many people have reported injuries and it has people wondering if it’s worth implementing them in their city.

Back in June, a woman received a $1.7 million settlement from the City of San Diego after her pelvis was shattered in a Segway crash in 2015. Due to the accident, the city implemented new laws involving the two-wheeled vehicle, like prohibiting Segway use by intoxicated people, and requiring tour guides to have a driver’s license and conducting on-site training for all riders before tours. The law is also requiring Segway tour companies to apply for special permits and obtain commercial liability insurance. Unfortunately, the new law didn’t apply to electric scooters, but officials state that they will implement a different law for them. In 2010, in a bizarre twist, Segway company owner Jimi Heselden died when he fell off a cliff and dropped down 40 feet into a river while riding a segway near his home.

Recently, the city of Santa Monica implemented its electric scooter pilot program, a plan that incorporates Bird, Lime, Lyft and Jump to operate electric scooters and motorized bikes in the city. Under the program, more than 2,000 scooters and 1,000 bikes are planned to hit the streets. The city plans to work closely with the four operators to create a safe, manageable, sustainable way to incorporate e-scooters and e-bikes into the community. But not everyone agrees with the vehicles getting the green light from the city to roam the streets. People opposed to the idea worry about their safety and where the devices are being left after use. Others in support like that they are an environmentally friendly method of transportation. Like everything, there are rules that people must abide when riding two-wheeled motorized vehicles. Riders must wear helmets, ride only on bike paths along streets and obey traffic laws. Riders are forbidden from traveling on sidewalks. In one case, a San Diego man was killed after the segway he was riding struck a concrete stub protruding four inches from the sidewalk. In turn, the city of Santa Monica is calling on the police department and code enforcement division to enforce the illegal use of electric devices on beach bike paths, sidewalks and parks.

While two-wheel motorized vehicles are in popular demand in cities like Santa Monica, San Francisco, San Diego and Portland, other cities are not all that fond of the idea. The Seattle Department of Transportation stated that Lime and other scooter-share companies won’t be permitted to distribute their scooters on city sidewalks and streets until a permit program can be developed. Just recently, operators Bird and Lime, and manufacturers Xiaomi and Segway were hit with a new class action lawsuit in California where the plaintiffs argue that the companies are responsible for personal injuries and property damage. The nine plaintiffs claim the companies were negligent in ensuring scooter safety, breached implied warranties, and that they created public nuisance by leaving the scooters on streets, sidewalks and other public places.

Two-wheeled vehicles are far from perfect and the main priority is maintaining consumer safety. Since there seems to be a race for who can take over a market first, there is a high chance that companies could be cutting corners, putting the safety of the customer at risk. The transportation industry scene is changing by the minute and it will be interesting to see what will be first on the market and how people will respond.
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