You’ve almost certainly seen them around: brightly-colored scooters sitting in a charging rack, waiting for someone to hop on and zoom off. These certainly aren’t the Razer Scooters of yesteryear, which required the person to kick the ground to get it moving; instead, electric scooters use a motor to propel them forward, just like a car or electric bike.
They’ve become incredibly popular in the past few years, which has been quite beneficial for congestion in large cities like Chicago – but it’s also meant more accidents, many of which can be life-threatening or deadly. Here’s what you need to know about electric scooters: their benefits, the laws around them, and the risks of trying out this new transportation tool.
Why are electric scooters so popular?
It’s very easy to see why electric scooters, especially rental scooters, are so popular, especially for urban transportation. When using a rental scooter, you pay only the rental fee rather than the endless costs associated with cars: paying for parking, maintaining the vehicle, and shelling out for gas. Since a scooter rider is in the bike lane rather than the road, they can zoom past traffic, as well as go places that cars aren’t allowed, such as the Lakefront Trail in Chicago.
And while they’re not as fast as cars, you’re still saving time, as you don’t have to sit in traffic or circle endlessly for one of those rare parking spots in a crowded city: you just look for a scooter station, hook the scooter up, and end your rental.
What are the laws around electric scooters?
Now that these transportation devices have become ubiquitous, laws have popped up around them to keep riders and drivers safe. These laws are a blend of bicycle and car laws, reflecting the unique traits of electric scooters without compromising on safety. In Illinois, a scooter operator must ride in the bike lane, and they also must have a valid license as an e-scooter is a motor vehicle. Scooters have to have lights and brakes, but like a bicycle, they can’t be ridden on the highway.
For a scooter rider, the most important facets of the law are that they have to be over 18 and hold a driver’s license, and they must abide by all traffic laws. This means they have to stop at red lights and stop signs just as a bike does, and they have to signal their intent to turn like a bike does. This ensures that cars are fully aware of where a scooter is going and can act accordingly, preventing a serious accident.
Though it’s not required, scooter riders should always wear a helmet and reflective gear to protect themselves against accidents. This is very important, as scooter accidents can be deadly if a car hits a rider even going at a low speed.
Why are electric scooters dangerous?
Fun and efficient as they are, scooters are also dangerous to pedestrians, scooter riders, and car drivers alike, and can result in serious injuries that can kill or disable an e-scooter rider. As they have become more popular, scooter accidents have skyrocketed, and emergency department visits have risen into the hundreds of thousands.
Part of the reason that scooters are dangerous is because, other than a helmet, scooter riders have almost no protection. Since they don’t have the protective barriers a car driver has, an accident can result in very severe injuries even at low speeds. They are also very vulnerable to the erratic actions of car drivers, like swerving into the bike lane, unexpectedly opening a door into the car lane, or backing up without checking for a scooter. Scooters themselves can also fail, such as not breaking enough while going downhill, dying in the middle of a drive, or hitting debris in the road and tipping over.
Some common injuries in scooter accidents include whiplash, head injuries, and broken arms or legs from a fall. Any of these can be both painful and potentially debilitating, which is why it’s so important to seek medical treatment right after an accident.
If you’re injured in a scooter accident, there’s help available
A scooter accident should be treated just like a car accident: that means you should stay at the scene of the crime, call the police and emergency medical services, document injuries, and note down the information of the other parties involved.
It also means that you should seek legal representation to recoup the financial and emotional damages from the accident. An experienced scooter accident lawyer can help you navigate the legal system and negotiate with any third parties on your behalf, including insurance agencies and investigators.
Don’t hesitate to get help for your injuries, and remember that your personal injury lawyer is representing your best interests in court; other parties in a lawsuit wish to downplay your injuries and prevent you from getting a fair and reasonable settlement. You need someone who will fight for justice and ensure that you’re taken care of after your scooter accident.
Electric scooters are an exciting development in transportation technology, but they also can be very dangerous. It’s important to understand both the benefits and drawbacks of e-scooters, as well as the legal obligations and options for a scooter driver. Understand that scooters are motor vehicles just like a car, motorcycle, or truck; by treating this topic with the seriousness it deserves, you can protect yourself and others as you zip through the city to save time and money.