Texas cities are seeing the burgeoning industry of dockless scooters. These electronic scooters are available to rent through a phone app and are growing in popularity because of their ease-of-use, convenience and fun. However, they are also quickly becoming the target of criticism, and their rental companies may be under harsh scrutiny for their lack of precautions to ensure the safety of their users.
It seems that as soon as a city welcomes an electric scooter rental service, the emergency rooms begin to see an uptick in injuries related to scooter travel. You do not have to be a scooter customer to be in danger.
Convenience or menace?
To use an e-scooter, you simply download the app to your phone and search the app for the scooter nearest your location. As soon as you locate the scooter, you unlock it with a code and ride away by standing upright on a narrow platform and holding the handlebars. When you arrive at your destination, you leave the scooter where you stop and lock it using your app. The next person in that area who wants a scooter can unlock it and use it.
It sounds like an ideal situation except for the following problems:
- The rental company provides no helmets, and so far, state and federal laws do not mandate helmets for riders.
- The industry requires no training for new riders beyond watching a brief tutorial on the app.
- Those who are unfamiliar with how the scooter operates often lack preparation for its quick acceleration up to 15 mph or its sudden stops.
- Scooters are too small for many motor vehicle drivers to see.
- Pedestrians are at risk from riders who use the sidewalk or those who leave their scooters lying across sidewalks or in doorways.
Common injuries involving scooter accidents include head trauma, broken bones and spinal fractures resulting from riders being thrown from the machines, either from sudden starts, unexpected stops or striking other objects. Pedestrians have also suffered serious injuries.
Dealing with scooter injuries
If you suffer injuries after renting a scooter, you may be concerned about the rental agency's lack of enforcement of safety recommendations, such as wearing shoes that cover your toes and clothing that protects your skin in case of a fall. Additionally, many accidents involving scooters relate to the industry's questionable construction and maintenance of the scooters available to the public.
At this time, little legislative oversight exists for vehicles that offer no basic safety systems, such as airbags or safety belts. That may make it difficult for you to know the best way to seek compensation for your injuries. Seeking advice from a legal professional may guide you in the right direction.