Injuries Associated With Standing Electric Scooter Use

JAMA Netw Open. 2019 Jan 4;2(1):e187381. doi: 10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2018.7381.


Importance: Since September 2017, standing electric scooters have proliferated rapidly as an inexpensive, easy mode of transportation. Although there are regulations for safe riding established by both electric scooter companies and local governments, public common use practices and the incidence and types of injuries associated with these standing electric scooters are unknown.

Objective: To characterize injuries associated with standing electric scooter use, the clinical outcomes of injured patients, and common use practices in the first US metropolitan area to experience adoption of this technology.

Design, setting, and participants: This study of a case series used retrospective cohort medical record review of all patients presenting with injuries associated with standing electric scooter use between September 1, 2017, and August 31, 2018, at 2 urban emergency departments associated with an academic medical center in Southern California. All electric scooter riders at selected public intersections in the community surrounding the 2 hospitals were also observed during a 7-hour observation period in September 2018.

Main outcomes and measures: Incidence and characteristics of injuries and observation of riders' common use practices.

Results: Two hundred forty-nine patients (145 [58.2%] male; mean [SD] age, 33.7 [15.3] years) presented to the emergency department with injuries associated with standing electric scooter use during the study period. Two hundred twenty-eight (91.6%) were injured as riders and 21 (8.4%) as nonriders. Twenty-seven patients were younger than 18 years (10.8%). Ten riders (4.4%) were documented as having worn a helmet, and 12 patients (4.8%) had either a blood alcohol level greater than 0.05% or were perceived to be intoxicated by a physician. Frequent injuries included fractures (79 [31.7%]), head injury (100 [40.2%]), and contusions, sprains, and lacerations without fracture or head injury (69 [27.7%]). The majority of patients (234 [94.0%]) were discharged home from the emergency department; of the 15 admitted patients, 2 had severe injuries and were admitted to the intensive care unit. Among 193 observed electric scooter riders in the local community in September 2018, 182 (94.3%) were not wearing a helmet.

Conclusions and relevance: Injuries associated with standing electric scooter use are a new phenomenon and vary in severity. In this study, helmet use was low and a significant subset of injuries occurred in patients younger than 18 years, the minimum age permitted by private scooter company regulations. These findings may inform public policy regarding standing electric scooter use.

Publication types

  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects
  • California / epidemiology
  • Child
  • Contusions / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / epidemiology*
  • Craniocerebral Trauma / prevention & control
  • Emergency Service, Hospital
  • Female
  • Fractures, Bone / epidemiology*
  • Head Protective Devices
  • Humans
  • Lacerations / epidemiology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Vehicles*
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Sprains and Strains / epidemiology*
  • Urban Population
  • Young Adult