E-scooter injuries in US piling up: Survey

WASHINGTON: More than 1,500 people have been treated for injuries from using electric scooters in the US since the craze began in late 2017, a Consumer Reports survey showed.

The nonprofit consumer magazine said its tally, based on reports from hospitals and emergency officials, is incomplete and does not include four reported fatalities linked to e-scooters.

Still, it counted 1,542 cases of emergency treatment for scooter-related injuries after contacting 110 hospitals and five agencies in 47 cities where the two biggest scooter companies operate.

This week, a 21-year-old Irish exchange student died after being struck by a car on his scooter in Austin, Texas, according to the media.

Consumer Reports, which released its report on Tuesday, said hospitals treated people for concussions, nasal fractures, forearm fractures and other injuries, some requiring surgery.

While major e-scooter companies encourage users to wear helmets, there are few regulations requiring them.

The magazine said many medical professionals suggested the total number of injuries is higher than the reported figure because hospitals do not have the capability yet to accurately track specific scooter-related injuries.

"E-scooters are a promising new transportation option, but safety always must come first," Mr William Wallace, a senior policy analyst for Consumer Reports, was quoted as saying.

Two US-based start-ups, Bird and Lime, have been growing rapidly and have reached valuations of more than US$1 billion (S$1.35 billion).

It may be complicated to assess the safety of scooters compared with bicycles, for example, without better data on how many people use scooters. - AFP