Electric scooters’ popularity has skyrocketed, becoming a cheap alternative to other means of transportation. However, this popularity has not come with a guarantee of safety by the companies providing the sharing services, such as Spin, Lime, and Bird. As they’re still a relatively new method of transportation, some factors make scooters unsafe for pedestrians and drivers alike.
1. Laws for driving e-scooters are still inconsistent
Electric scooters are street-legal in the US only in 38 states and are deemed not street-legal in 10. Riders should not simply get on one without knowing and following the rules of the road, as it should be with any other means of transportation.
The problem arises, however, when you consider that laws regarding e-scooters are not as straightforward as they should be.
Different states and cities have rules for where you can ride an e-scooter. Some places require riding on the sidewalk, while others explicitly forbid it. There are no specific laws for e-scooters or e-scooter drivers.
The fact that there’s no law specific to e-scooters means most people don’t know what’s legal and what’s illegal to do with them, putting them in a position where they can receive fines for infractions they didn’t know they committed.
2. Anyone can use them with no prerequisite of proficiency
This goes back to the lack of legal parameters but deserves a point of its own.
Riders do not need to pass an e-scooter-specific test, so people can simply ride them without knowing motorized scooter laws. You only need a valid driver’s license to use one of these scooters. However, this means you also get too many inexperienced riders, leading to unsafe situations for riders and pedestrians alike.
3. No built-in safety features
Due to their design, e-scooters do not offer enough protection for riders, potentially leading to more dangerous crashes. Since there are no specific laws for e-scooter driving, riders can choose to ride without a helmet or use their phone while riding. And despite being illegal, you often see two people riding at the same time, which can change the balance center of the scooter and cause a fall.
Moreso, e-scooter sharing companies have not taken all possible measures to inform riders about safe riding. They do not offer vigilance against known acts of vandalism (such as cutting the brake lines), do not notify riders of damage received by e-scooters before unlocking them, and do not directly perform maintenance on the scooters but instead rely on contractors.
4. Accidents can very easily turn into serious injuries
The lack of legal parameters, the top-heavy nature of the scooters, the fundamental lack of built-in measures, and the widespread lack of safety measures taken by riders add up to a dangerous cocktail on the road. Unlike motorcycles, e-scooters don’t protect riders and leave them exposed to severe injuries in the case of a car accident.
According to Miami personal injury law firm, Panter, Panter & Sampedro, if you or someone you know has been injured in an accident as a result of riding an e-scooter, you may be eligible for compensation.
5. Automatic slowdowns are dangerous
A new technological measure was taken to prevent e-scooters from going too fast in specific locations: geo fences. Geo fences are invisible barriers built into e-scooters’ GPS tracking systems. When a rider crosses the barrier, the e-scooter automatically slows down.
While good in theory, geo fences have risks, as riders aren’t warned that they’re approaching the fence and can’t physically see it to avoid it if they know it’s there. An unexpected break in the middle of a ride can lead to unsafe situations.
The bottom line
Despite their popularity, e-scooters stand in a legally inconsistent position, where most riders have difficulty knowing what they are allowed to do with them or where to ride. Additionally, some design choices make the rides unsafe for most users. If you or someone you know gets involved in an electric scooter accident, contact a personal injury attorney to help you understand your rights and fight for what you deserve.