Electric scooters are fun to ride. But if you think they aren’t dangerous, you are wrong.
They are barely visible from a distance to motorists and drivers. They lack the stability and the slightest nudge from a passing vehicle can lead to a fatal accident.
Scooter accidents can lead to the following injuries:
- Broken Bones
- Facial Injuries
- Soft tissue damage
- Traumatic Brain Injuries
- Back and Spinal Injuries
As you can see from the infographic above, out of 249 patients that were admitted in hospitals in a span of one year, 40 percent suffered bone fractures and 31.7 percent suffered head trauma. This shows that recklessness in scootering can lead to severe injuries. So riders need to know that electric scooter safety comes first.
Common Driving Hazards With Electric Scooters
The first step to deal with electric scooter hazards is to know how hazardous they can be. This is especially important if you are an inexperienced rider.
As a matter of fact, a YouTube star, Emily Hartridge died when her electric scooter collided with a truck in Southeast London. Accidents like these show that electric scooters shouldn’t be your primary mode of transport as they are very risky.
Laws on Electric Scooters: Vary by State
Governments across the world are gradually realizing that the electric scooters zooming through the cities need to be regulated. Electric scooters aren’t harmless, they are usually driven at 15 miles per hour on sidewalks causing safety issues for pedestrians.
Laws on electric scooters in most jurisdictions dictate the regulations on how they are used. But in some states there are strict regulations. In New York, their use is banned while in Kansas, you cannot drive an electric scooter on the sidewalk.
Driver’s License, Helmet and Age Limit
You don’t need a driver’s license, registration or insurance to ride an electric scooter in most states. In states like South Carolina and Michigan you need a driver’s license to drive an electric scooter. But laws regulate the areas where you can drive the electric scooter and the amount of power its motor can have.
Laws vary by state, but using electric scooters on sidewalks is often prohibited. You can ride them on paths where people ride their bikes. You can ride them on roads but speed limit ranges from 15 to 25 mph depending on which state you live in.
Every country and even different states have different laws in terms of regulating electric scooter use. In states like Nevada, Connecticut and Delaware among many others, you need to be at least 16 years of age to drive an electric scooter. In Alabama, you need a DMV registration to ride an electric scooter.
If you want comprehensive info on electric scooter laws, read this guide by Unagi scooters on laws and regulations.
Don’t Rely on Auto Insurance
You must know that your auto insurance company won’t cover any accidents related to electric scooters. Most auto insurance companies don’t cover any liability for vehicles with less than four wheels. If you plan to rent or buy an electric scooter, it is better to purchase dedicated scooter insurance or get “umbrella” coverage to get scooter insurance from your current auto insurer.
Here are the factors that lead to electric scooter accidents:
People often buy electric scooters to ride in areas where there is a lot of traffic. Although pedestrians stay wary of any motorists or bicycles, most of them are not used to electric scooters. This lack of familiarity poses a huge risk for both pedestrians and the scooterists. Another thing with scooters is that they are compact and aren’t outrightly visible.
2. Rider inexperience
Since the electric scooter trend is relatively fresh, most people who buy electric scooters don’t know much about safety measures and lack proper riding skills. Without proper knowledge of the traffic laws, the risk of getting into an accident is high.
3. High-risk Behavior
Reckless behavior by youngsters or adults can lead to safety hazards. Some just want to do crazy tricks with their scooters, for the thrill of it, underestimating the risk associated with their adventures. Even if you are the adventurous kind, all the tricks and stunts must be performed in a safe space with proper electric scooter safety gear on your body.
4. Reduced Visibility
Most people aren’t “expecting” electric scooters in a bike lane or a sidewalk. To add to this problem, electric scooters are very compact in size and can become obscure amidst a crowd of people walking. This reduces their visibility to motorists and drivers who need to see them to avoid a collision. If there are any objects on the road, the rider themselves can be obscured. So it is crucial that you take the necessary safety measures to avoid any accidents.
5. Uneven Roads
Roads are not perfect everywhere. They have potholes and pebbles which remain from accidents and uneven ground. On top of that, scooters aren’t very sturdy, many are lightweight and can topple very easily when there is any uneven surface. So riding an electric scooter requires a level of skill to know how to ride steady and when to slow down.
6. No Incentives for Scooter Safety
The reason scooters are so dangerous is that there is just no way to stop a 14 year old from driving it on the sidewalks. There is no safety inspection or qualifying exam like there is with four-wheelers. There are no training programs and no structure that helps beginners get through the learning curve.
How to Safely Start Your Ride
The first thing you should do before getting on the electric scooter is to ensure that the road ahead is clear. There should be no potholes, curbs or any other objects. Next, place your one foot in or around the middle of the scooter footboard. Then firmly hold the handlebars with both hands. Use your free foot to give a couple kicks on the ground. Then place the free foot behind your foot placed on the footboard. The toes of the foot on the back should touch the footboard and the heel should hover over the stomp brake.
How to Safely Stand on the Scooter
You should stand with both feet on the footboard, one in front of the other. Don’t stand close to the handlebar stalk, because you will lose balance if you do. Keep your arms stretched outward bending them at the elbows. Make sure you never let go of either of the handlebar grips while you ride the electric scooter.
How to Slow Down and Stop the Scooter
While you’re driving the scooter and need to slow it down, you can use the brake level on the left side of the handlebars. If you want to bring the scooter to a complete halt, press the left brake lever all the way down and at the same time, press the rear stomp brake slowly down. Because you can encounter all sorts of obstacles on the way, it is advised to stand in such a way that the heel of your rear foot is hovering over the stomp break. It allows you to make a quick stop, just in case.
Where Should You Ride
Every city or country has a different set of rules when it comes to commuting with a scooter. The thumb rule is that you can ride in areas where people ride bikes. It helps to take a look at the educational information that comes with your scooter ride, often on display on the scooter itself. Try to find a path where there is not much of a crowd or traffic. Bike lanes or streets that have enough space would be the right choice for you to ride your electric scooter.
Is It Okay to Ride on the Sidewalk?
You can or cannot—it depends on the city you live in. A good way to find out is to explore the areas you wish to drive in beforehand. Find out how much traffic is there. However, note that you will have to be alert and careful while driving on the sidewalk. This is because drivers on the road don’t expect any fast moving vehicles on the sidewalks.
So when you ride through a driveway, approach any parking lot or other areas where there is a car or motorcycle entrance or exit with extreme caution. Slow down your scooter and take a good look at what might be coming your way.
The next thing is to be respectful and give space to pedestrians. Slow your scooter down when there are any pedestrians approaching. Don’t surprise or shock anyone walking by speeding fast. If you want to pass through, let them know first with a bell or a verbal warning.
What If There is No Bike Lane?
You need to understand the safety precautions well if there is no bike lane in your area. The cars on the road can be fast and your scooter can crash if you aren’t careful. The first step is to always ride in a straight line, do not confuse the drivers behind you by making abrupt turns. If there are any obstacles coming your way, make slow turns and keep your distance from parked cars. If you ride too close to the parked cars, an opening door may lead to a crash.
Avoid riding too close to the curb. This is because debris, including pebbles, broken car remains, plant waste or other material tend to collect in the curb. If you want to turn left, be very careful while changing into a different lane. Use the right lane to make a turn, a lane that a car would use.
Potholes Pose Serious Risk For Scooter Drivers
What if There Are Potholes in Your Area
It is crucial that you are aware of your surroundings, especially the path ahead of you. If there are any potholes, you will either need to slow down or stop your scooter depending on how uneven and deep they are.
What About Riding With Cargo or Passenger?
Short answer: No, electric scooters aren’t meant for that. Even if you are the kind of person that craves thrill and adventure, there is no way for you to drive with cargo or passengers without compromising your safety. Moreover, it isn’t legal to do so. You shouldn’t use the scooter body to carry any kind of bags or luggage. You can wear a backpack if you want, just like you do when you walk. But it shouldn’t be too heavy or loose so as to disturb your balance. Carry only up to medium-sized backpacks and ensure the straps aren’t too loose.
What if My Scooter Shows Signs of Trouble or Breaks Down Mid Way?
If there are any signs of a problem with the scooter, you should stop immediately to exacerbate the problem further. After you get off the scooter, take it to your nearest repair center. Some scooter manufacturers provide support with mobile apps, others can be reached via phone. Reach out to your manufacturer and see if they can get the problem resolved.
What To Do In Case of a Crash or Accident
If you get into an accident or crash, immediately call 911, or the emergency helpline of your country. Depending on your level of injury, seek help from people you see around you. Do not panic, take deep breaths to keep yourself together while help arrives. Inform your family via phone call after you have called for medical help.
Electric scooters can be fun, but only if used responsibly. There are serious dangers associated with driving them on the roads or even your neighborhood streets. Make sure you wear a helmet and don’t carry anything that throws you off balance.
It is also essential to comply with the law of the state. So do a quick Google search with “electric scooter laws <state name>” to find out the requirements in terms of age, speed, license and DMV registration.
However, remember that to be safe, sometimes you just need to drive slowly and pay attention to your surroundings.