Head injuries, fractures common in e-scooter crashes, study finds

/ CBS News

E-scooters blamed for serious injuries

The electric scooter craze has taken many cities by storm, but this trendy mode of transportation has a hazardous downside. A new study from the University of California, Los Angeles finds that 1 in 3 people involved in electric scooter accidents are injured badly enough that they require a trip to the emergency room.

Fractures, dislocated joints, and head injuries were the most common injuries.

"[We saw] a range of different fractures. The wrist, forearm and the ankles. There were a lot of patients who came in with head injuries. Fortunately the majority of them suffered minor concussions, but five patients did have bleeding inside the brain," the study's lead author Dr. Tarak Trivedi told CBS News.

The research, published in JAMA Network Open, is the first published medical study on injuries caused by electric scooters.

Researchers say Los Angeles-area emergency departments are at the epicenter of the electric scooter phenomenon. Santa Monica was one of the first U.S. cities where the scooters were widely used.

Now, electric scooters from companies like Bird and Lime are available in more than 60 cities nationwide and a growing number of locations around the world.

"There are thousands of riders now using these scooters, so it's more important than ever to understand their impact on public health," Trivedi, who is a scholar in the National Clinician Scholars Program at the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, said in a statement.

People ride Bird shared dockless electric scooters along Venice Beach, Aug. 13, 2018 in Los Angeles, California. Getty

The researchers analyzed data from 249 people who were treated for scooter-related injuries at the emergency departments of two Los Angeles hospitals from Sept. 1, 2017 to Aug. 31, 2018.

About 92 percent of the injured people had been riding electric scooters. The other 8 percent were pedestrians who were struck by scooter riders or who stumbled over a discarded scooter. Head injuries were the most common complaint at 40 percent, followed by fractures at 32 percent, and cuts, sprains, or bruises at 28 percent.

Fifteen people required admittance to the hospital, and two needed treatment in the intensive care unit.

Only 4 percent of those injured were wearing a helmet while riding.

E-scooters can reach speeds of about 15 miles per hour, the study authors note, and it's become common practice for many riders to zip on and off streets and sidewalks dodging pedestrians and motorists.

Scooter companies typically recommend riders be at least 18 years old and always wear helmets while riding. However, most people do not listen to these guidelines.

Unused scooters are often left on at the edge of curbs, but are sometimes abandoned on sidewalks where they can be a tripping hazard.

Some cities have adopted different measures to respond to safety issues electric scooters pose. Santa Monica, for example, began a public safety campaign with two leading e-scooter companies last summer encouraging riders to have a valid driver's license, only ride on the street, not the sidewalk, and always wear a helmet. Shortly after, the city launched a pilot program intended to develop administrative regulations on shared scooters and bikes.

In San Francisco, the use of electric scooters were banned for several months last year after a handful of scooter companies deployed hundreds of dockless scooters throughout the city in late March. This drew the ire of many residents because they were often left on sidewalks, obstructing walkways. In October, officials allowed the scooters once more, but not on sidewalks, CBS San Francisco reported.

In response to the new study, Scooter company Bird called the report "very limited" and said the number of injuries reported amounts to a small fraction of e-scooter riders.

In a statement to CBS News the company said it's "committed to partnering with cities, organizations, and community members to safely and responsibly embrace e-scooters as an alternative to cars."

Lime, another scooter company, says it has led several safety initiatives including distributing tens of thousands of free helmets to e-scooter riders.

Shayna Specht paused her e-scooter on a Santa Monica sidewalk to say she feels safe using them. "You just have to be cautious of other people just riding a bike or walking," she told CBS News.

Trivedi also urges this caution.

"While electric scooters are easy fun convenient and incredibly useful, they have to be taken seriously," he said.

First published on January 25, 2019

© 2019 CBS Interactive Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Controversial E-Scooters Around Los Angeles Stir Debate And Anger

Detained American's brother says lawyer "was chosen for him"

"We remain in the dark about who made the choice if Paul didn't," David Whelan says

updated 11M ago

Head injuries common in e-scooter crashes, study finds

This trendy mode of transportation has a hazardous downside

updated 16M ago

Trump agreed to reopen the government for 3 weeks. Here's what comes next

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they will work to reopen the government "today"

updated 7M ago

Trump says he'll sign bill to reopen government for 3 weeks

He announced this development on the government shutdown at the White House Friday afternoon

updated 32M ago

Pelosi, Schumer speak after Trump announces shutdown deal

President Trump announced that Democrats and Republicans had reached a deal to reopen the government Friday afternoon

updated 46M ago

Trump agreed to reopen the government for 3 weeks. Here's what comes next

Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said they will work to reopen the government "today"

updated 7M ago

Trump says he'll sign bill to reopen government for 3 weeks

He announced this development on the government shutdown at the White House Friday afternoon

updated 32M ago

Pelosi, Schumer speak after Trump announces shutdown deal

President Trump announced that Democrats and Republicans had reached a deal to reopen the government Friday afternoon

updated 46M ago

Video shows predawn raid on Roger Stone's house

FBI agents in combat gear fanned out just before dawn in front of Florida home of Trump​'s former campaign adviser

updated 49M ago

Most recalled IRS workers not showing up to work

The IRS recalled 26,000 workers without pay to process tax refunds, but many haven't shown up this week

1H ago

Hundreds missing after dam collapse deluges community in liquid waste

Brazilian mining company Vale SA said in a statement that the flow reached the community of Vila Ferteco and an administrative office

updated 3M ago

Detained American's brother says lawyer "was chosen for him"

"We remain in the dark about who made the choice if Paul didn't," David Whelan says

updated 11M ago

Australians suffer as heatwave knocks out power, fuels fires

Dizzying temps well over 110 degrees are setting records across the country as drought parched lands are scorched by wildfire

5H ago

U.K. lawmakers' Brexit standoff appears to irk Queen Elizabeth

Monarch barred from voicing political opinions, but call for Britain to seek "common ground" seen as rebuke of feuding British lawmakers

6H ago

Iran says U.S. Navy veteran jailed on "private complaint"

Tehran had previously given no info on detention of Michael White, whose family fear for his wellbeing as he was undergoing cancer treatment

8H ago

"Princess Diaries 3" in the works

In the words of Mia Thermopolis: "Shut. Up."

4H ago

Special edition of "CBS Sunday Morning" celebrates its 40th birthday

The January 27 broadcast looks at the people, the moments, and the milestones from the series' first four decades

5H ago

Kate Hudson on her "genderless" approach to raising kids

Hudson and Danny Fujikawa's daughter, Rani, is named after Fujikawa's father, Ron

7H ago

Meek Mill, Jay-Z and others launch initiative for criminal justice reform

According to the Reform Alliance, 4.5 million people are currently on parole or probation for unreasonable terms

Jan 24

Dad and son dance to "Frozen" in viral video

When his son wanted to dance to "Frozen" songs, this dad put on an Elsa costume – because it's important to just "let it go" and be yourself

Jan 24

11,000 at Microsoft trapped in "reply all" loop

Social-media posts by employees describe some of the hazards — and horrors — that can come from hitting "reply all"

updated 33M ago

Hope fading for Mars Opportunity rover

NASA engineers have not given up trying to revive the Opportunity Mars rover in the wake of a dust storm last year – but "we're getting close to the end"

2H ago

Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp functions may merge

Don't worry — your favorite apps aren't going anywhere

2H ago

Alligators freeze with noses above water

The Swamp Park manager said 18 alligators froze Monday night and stayed frozen all day Tuesday

5H ago

New Horizons beams back best image yet of Ultima Thule

NASA's New Horizons probe has sent back more photos from the far side of the solar system, a billion miles past Pluto

23H ago

Head injuries common in e-scooter crashes, study finds

This trendy mode of transportation has a hazardous downside

updated 16M ago

"The Happiness Project" author on how to combat loneliness

One in 10 Americans say they feel lonely or isolated from those around them all or most of the time, according to a Pew Research Center survey

3H ago

Whole Foods recalls wraps, other products with spinach due to salmonella risk

Ready-to-eat products sold at the grocery chain's stores in eight states may be contaminated by bacterial infection

4H ago

Sackler family, tied to prestigious institutions, quiet on opioid crisis accusations

Their name is attached to the Guggenheim and the Met, among others, but what you don't often find it publicly tied to is the pharmaceutical company it built

7H ago

Superintendent charged with fraud for helping teen speaks out

Casey Smitherman was arrested after using her own insurance to help a sick student

21H ago

9 tax deductions you can no longer claim

Don't count on these popular deductions to reduce your tax bill this year – they're gone as part of broader tax cuts

updated 24M ago

Ketchup "caviar" and other Valentine's Day's promotions

With consumers set to open their wallets to show their love, food companies are cooking up some V-Day treats

updated 54M ago

11,000 at Microsoft trapped in "reply all" loop

Social-media posts by employees describe some of the hazards — and horrors — that can come from hitting "reply all"

updated 33M ago

Most recalled IRS workers not showing up to work

The IRS recalled 26,000 workers without pay to process tax refunds, but many haven't shown up this week

1H ago

Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp functions may merge

Don't worry — your favorite apps aren't going anywhere

2H ago

Video shows predawn raid on Roger Stone's house

FBI agents in combat gear fanned out just before dawn in front of Florida home of Trump​'s former campaign adviser

updated 49M ago

Roger Stone leaves court to chants of "lock him up"

Roger Stone, arrested and indicted on seven charges, was released on $250,000 bond Friday

2H ago

Former Trump campaign chair Paul Manafort appears in federal court

The president's former campaign chairman appeared in federal court the same day as Trump associate Roger Stone

4H ago

Judge OK's high-profile new defense team for Weinstein

One of Harvey Weinstein's new lawyers is Jose Baez, best known for representing Casey Anthony, Florida mom acquitted in daughter's death

5H ago

Mueller indicts Trump associate Roger Stone

White House press secretary Sarah Sanders said this has "nothing to do with the president and certainly nothing to do with the White House"

3H ago