Personal vehicles such as bicycles, e-bikes, e-scooters, and motorcycles have grown in popularity in the United States over the past few years due to their efficiency and effectiveness compared to cars. But a six-year study by UCLA shows that these mild compounds are responsible for a higher proportion of injuries.
The study, which was conducted across 180 UCLA outpatient clinics, UCLA health emergency departments, and urgent care centers from January 2014 to May 2020, tracked infection rates to find that electric scooters represented the highest numbers.
The study used a new natural language processing (NLP) method to scan 36 million medical notes from the respective time period.
In the end, 1,354 electric scooter-related injuries were found, which represents an average use injury rate of 115 injuries per million trips. This number beats national injury rates on motorcycles at 104 per million trips, bicycles at 15 per million trips, cars at 8 per million trips, and walking at 2 per million trips.
Electric scooter injuries are found not only to riders, but also to pedestrians who were struck by a rider on an electric bicycle.
Injuries to electric scooters were more numerous but often less severe than those of motorcycle and automobile accident victims, and were significantly less lethal.
The study found that 30% of injured electric scooter riders were seen in more than one clinical setting (such as initial admission to the emergency department and an outpatient follow-up visit), 29% required advanced imaging, 6% required inpatient admission, and there were two fatalities.
The study also found an expected spike in electric scooter injuries after companies involved in electric scooters ramped up their operations in 2018.
Previously, the number of injuries on electric scooters was only 13 per year. In 2018, that number jumped to 595. By 2019, it had settled at 672.
Sharing an electric scooter has become a double-edged sword. It allows anyone in an urban environment to take advantage of a lightweight and highly efficient electric scooter instead of traveling by car / uber / taxi without having to deal with the hassles of buying and owning a private scooter. However, it also means that a large number of riders are new or inexperienced in navigating small wheeled vehicles, which leads to greater risks to themselves and those around them. Unfortunately, many riders don’t take safety seriously when it comes to scooters, and often ride without a helmet or under the influence of drugs or alcohol, which hasn’t helped with injury rates either.
However, electric scooters have also had a huge positive impact on the transportation ecosystem in cities around the world. Many experienced riders have abandoned personal cars entirely in favor of light electric vehicles such as e-bikes and e-scooters.
Personally, I like the electric bike fan because I feel that it is more stable and safer with large wheels and increased stability during emergency maneuvers such as fast braking.
But then again, I also occasionally watch as I ride electric scooters at over 60mph, so what do I know?
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