Will Electric Scooters in Orlando Lead to More Accidents?
In January, the City of Orlando joined a growing number of cities in Florida where electric scooters are an option for getting around town. Since January, the city has been contracting with companies to make hundreds of scooters available in the city, and city leaders are anticipating that as many as 30,000 people may use an electric scooter here every month. That’s based on a similar number of rides taken each month through Orlando’s bike share program.
But even as the Orlando City Commission was voting to approve the use of electric scooters, questions arose about whether these scooters would make the streets less safe, as cars and people on scooters lead to an unpredictable increase in accidents. Studies in other major cities that have legalized scooters, including Austin, Texas, suggest those concerns are legitimate.
If you’ve been injured in an electric scooter accident, it’s important to seek the guidance of an experienced personal injury attorney right away. Let’s take a closer look at Orlando’s new scooter programs, and what studies say about safety issues related to electric scooters.
What is Orlando’s New Program for Electric Scooters?
On Dec. 9, the Orlando City Commission unanimously approved the use of electric scooters in the city, allowing up to 1,800 scooters to become available. Each scooter company that contracts with the city will be able to send the City between 200-400 scooters. The program will operate the same way as Orlando’s bike share program. Users can download a city app and use it to unlock the scooter, then relock it when they’re finished. Users pay an initial fee, then an additional fee per minute while riding it.
Right after the vote, the University of Central Florida’s Student Government formed a partnership with Spin, a subsidiary of Ford Motor Co., to bring 300 e-scooters and 12 charging hubs to their campus, which already has 600 Lime bikes. Those scooters are restricted from being used off-campus.
The Florida Legislature had voted to approve electric scooters, but to allow the state’s municipalities to decide if they want to legalize them locally. Other Florida cities, including Tampa and Fort Lauderdale, have also done so.
These scooters have generated feelings of excitement and anticipation among many, but there were also concerns raised during the City Commission hearings about public safety for riders and pedestrians. Commissioners Patty Sheehan and Robert Stuart both raised questions about the potential for accidents and whether this move endangers pedestrian safety.
In response, Billy Hattaway, Orlando’s Transportation Director, told the Orlando Weekly that Orlando would require companies to limit scooter speeds to 10 mph and provide riders with liability insurance. The companies are also required to offer safety courses to first-time users.
Safety studies have already been done in other cities, and the results raise even more questions.
What Safety Concerns Have Been Raised About Electric Scooters?
As scooters become more popular, studies have been done to determine their impact on traffic and pedestrian safety. A Rutgers University study found that the number of incidents from electric scooters rose from 2,325 in 2008 to 6,957 by 2018. Even more disturbing is that serious injuries happened in some of those cases, with nearly 200 people being injured seriously enough to make emergency-room visits. Of the injured riders who were treated for head injury, 15 percent were diagnosed with traumatic brain injuries.
The City of Austin, Texas, working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, conducted its own safety study on e-scooters used locally between Sept. 5 and Nov. 30, 2018, when more than 936,110 trips were taken in the city. After reviewing data from local emergency-rooms and hospital reports, researchers found that more than 270 people had suffered from scooter-related injuries. That amounted to 14 people getting injured for every 100,000 scooter trips taken.
The study also found that most e-scooter riders were not wearing helmets, which increased the risk of head injuries. Other riders endured:
- Bone fractures to their noses, fingers, and toes
- Multiple fractures to different body parts
- Sustained organ damage
Scooters going at too sharp a speed were found to have collided with everything from a curb to a light pole, and many of the injured riders blamed the uneven surface of the road they were on for their accident.
Contact The Umansky Law Firm to Discuss Your E-Scooter Accident Claim
If you were injured in an accident involving an electric scooter, or suffered an injury due to someone else’s negligence, contact the trusted personal injury attorneys at The Umansky Law Firm. With more than 100 years of combined legal experience, they can assess your situation and guide you on what to do next so you can achieve the best possible settlement. The first consultation is free. Reach out to our team of experienced attorneys by filling out our contact form or calling our office at any time of day or night.