Please Be Careful, #3: E-Scooter Rentals Can Lead To TBI. Survey Shows Only 4% Of Riders Were Wearing Helmets.

Dear Friends,

Apparently E-Scooters are very popular in most major cities and countries.  They appeal to a younger generation and tourists alike.  However, please be aware for you, family members and friends that helmets are often not required.   – Alex)

One in 3 people involved in electric scooter accidents require treatment for injuries at an emergency room, according to a new study by the University of California, Los Angeles, which also found that few riders wear a helmet.

The study appears to be the first to analyze the public health impact of shared electric scooters offered by several fledgling startups, such as Bird and Lime, which are similar to ride-hailing taxi services like Uber and Lyft.

Users in nearly 50 U.S. cities can now rent an electric scooter using each company’s app. Rental is inexpensive—Bird, for instance, charges a $1 flat fee plus 15 cents per minute a ride lasts. The scooters can travel at speeds up to 15 mph, and riders typically use them for short trips.

Shortly after the arrival of e-scooters more than a year ago, medical professionals across the U.S. started noticing more and more people coming into emergency rooms with injuries from crashes while riding them. The UCLA researchers had a front-row seat to the action in Los Angeles and Santa Monica, where Bird introduced electric scooters shortly after launching in late 2017.

The study, published Friday in JAMA Network Open, also took note of helmet use among those injured. Just 10 of them, or 4 percent, were wearing a helmet.

The team separately observed electric scooter riders at busy intersections in Los Angeles this past September. In total, they documented 193 people riding scooters. About 94 percent of them were not wearing helmets, the study says.

“Riders, obviously, should be wearing helmets,” says Edward M. Castillo, M.D., at the University of California, San Diego’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Castillo, who was not involved in the current study, says he and his colleagues have documented more than 200 injuries at his hospital stemming from electric-scooter-involved crashes.

But he and other experts CR spoke with acknowledge that using a helmet when riding an electric scooter can be inconvenient, since that would require people to carry a helmet around with them on the off chance they might use one of the devices.

The injuries themselves were categorized into three groups: head injuries (40 percent), fractures (32 percent), and cuts, sprains, or bruises without a fracture (28 percent). Fifteen people were admitted to the hospital, including two who were treated in an intensive care unit, according to the study.

Regulations that exist for e-scooters are scattershot, making it difficult for riders to know at times where to ride. Helmet laws are, mostly, voluntary. A new California law that went into effect this month allows riders over the age of 18 to ride without a helmet. Bird was one of the bill’s main backers. (