E-scooters, e-bikes, and hoverboards have grown in popularity among Americans in recent years, as a way to get to and from work or school, or for fun. A new report released by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds that emergency room (ER)-treated injuries and deaths with these products are also increasing. In light of the spike in injuries, CPSC reminds consumers to use caution and safety with these devices.
From 2017 to 2021, injuries spiked 127 percent to 77,200 for micromobility devices, and the number of deaths rose from 5 to 48.* E-scooters had the highest percentage increase in injuries and accounted for 68 deaths in the same time period. Consumer-owned e-scooters accounted for most ER visits (56 percent), but incidents involving rental e-scooter were not far behind (44 percent).
Where demographic data are known, CPSC’s report found that Black consumers represented 31 percent of the ER visits with micromobility products, a significantly higher proportion than their 13 percent of the population nationwide.
The top hazards in e-scooter and e-bike fatalities were incidents with motor vehicles and user-control issues, followed by fires.
Fires with the lithium-ion batteries that power e-scooters, as well as e-bikes and hoverboards, have been garnering attention from fire departments nationwide. Fire Prevention Week is October 9-15. CPSC recommends these tips to prevent fires with these devices:
- Always be present when charging devices using lithium-ion batteries. Never charge them while sleeping.
- Only use the charger that came with your device.
- Only use an approved replacement battery pack.
- Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper charging, and unplug the device when done.
- Never use an e-mobility device with a battery pack that has been modified/reworked by unqualified personnel or with re-purposed or used cells
NEVER throw lithium batteries into the trash or general recycling. Instead, take them to your local battery recycler or hazardous waste collection center.
Because collisions with motor vehicles and user-control issues are the most common hazards, CPSC urges consumers to do the following:
- Always wear a bicycle helmet.
- Before riding, make sure to check for any damage, which includes examining the handlebars, brakes, throttle, bell, lights, tires, cables and frame.
- See and be seen. Most deaths involve motor vehicles. Many micromobility products are small, quick, and silent, making it difficult for others to spot you, especially in parking lots and structures.
- Expect vehicle drivers and pedestrians not to see you; slow down and stay aware of your surroundings.
- Use the bell/horn to alert others.
- Do not make abrupt, unpredictable movements.
- Beware of obstacles. E-scooters have small tires, so objects and uneven surfaces can cause them to stop suddenly, throwing you off.
- Always keep both hands on the handlebars and keep items off the handlebars.
- Slow down and lean back when you have to ride over bumps.
- Never ride under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
- Only one person per e-scooter; additional riders can increase the risk and severity of collisions.
- Follow all manufacturer directions, review the safety information and identify and weight and age limits for the micromobility product.