How Electric Scooters Took Over Austin

Since the introduction of electric scooters into Austin in April 2018, they have taken over in terms of alternative transport for commuters, partygoers, tourists and anybody who would prefer to scoot around the city.

Provided by Bird, Lime, JUMP, Lyft, OjO, Spin and VeoRide, these vehicles are promoted as a low cost, smart and eco-friendly alternative transportation for short distances around the city.

Everywhere you look you see scooter riders weaving their way around Austin’s streets, sidewalks, and traffic. As reports of e-scooter injuries in Austin increase, we took a look at the issue of safety and how these accidents happen as e-scooters take over Austin.

Scooter Injuries on The Rise in Austin

3.6 Million Miles Travelled in Just 1 Year!

According to the City of Austin Dockless Vehicle Data, there are in excess of 15,000 dockless scooter devices in operation in the city. Looking back into early 2018, we can see that there has been an increase in devices of 1143% in just one year! April 2018 to April 2019 has seen:

  • 3.623M journeys taken
  • 3.674 miles traveled
  • 9291 average journeys per day
  • 9352 average miles per day
  • 1.09 average miles per journey
  • 13.1 average minutes per journey
  • 829% increase in month trips from April, 2018 to April, 201

Is the Scoot Worth the Risk?

With that increase, also came a concern for the health and wellbeing of the scooter riders. Within the past 12 months, reports of scooter related injuries has been on the rise – so much so that is the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) were asked to conduct an investigation to shed some light on the dangers of e-scooters and the risk to those who ride them.

The study, published in April 2019, used data from Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services (ATCEMS) incident reports, and Emergency Department (ED) complaint data from nine hospital areas across a 3 month period – September to November 2018 – and found 160 confirm cases of e-scooter related injuries in Austin in that time period.

From those injured, almost 50% suffered head injuries, 70% upper limb injuries, 55% lower limb injuries, and 18% sustained injuries to the chest/abdomen. Over one-third of those injured sustained bone fractures and 3% suffered head fractures.

Almost 50% of the injured people had sustained severe injuries including, bone fractures, nerve injuries, tendon and ligament injuries, severe bleeding and organ damage.

37% of Scooter Accidents occur in Downtown Austin

According to the recent CDC data the areas where accidents occurred were:

  • Downtown Austin (37%)
  • University of Texas Campus (16%)

Moreover, 55% of riders sustained an injury on the street, 33% on sidewalks, 8 suffered injury in areas where no motorized vehicles are allowed and one in a parking garage.

Increased Reports of Scooter Malfunctions

Some of the common scooter defects reported by electric scooter users and manufacturers can cause serious injury to the riders and have done in the past. These include:

  • Uncontrollable acceleration due to a stuck throttle
  • Faulty brakes
  • Software Bugs causing sudden excessive braking
  • Locking of wheels

In February 2019, Lime issued a safety update to the public stating that they had recently detected a bug in their software, which could cause ‘sudden excessive braking’ during use.

Just last month, Zinda Law Group filed a lawsuit against Lime on behalf of our client. Our client was riding a scooter near the Capitol Building when her scooter malfunctioned causing her to fall off the scooter and injure herself on a nearby railing, causing multiple facial fractures, a damaged tear duct, two broken ribs and severe damage to her nose.

Speaking with ABC News in May, Jack Zinda, Zinda Law Group CEO, said, “The biggest thing that Dorothy (our client) wants to do is make sure this doesn’t happen to anybody in the future and that Lime is held accountable for what occurred.”

What are Scooter Companies Doing to Address These Issues?

In cases of scooter malfunction, liability may fall to the scooter provider. In a report published in April 2019 by Bird, the examined the risks and responsibilities associated with e-scooters and assessed how they would prioritize the prevention of accidents.

In their report, they suggest that operators and cities alike must act to improve safety, suggesting that cities maintain smoother streets, manage car and truck speed and be designed with safety in mind in order to help reduce the risk of accidents for all road users. According to their own user study, they found a strong demand for protected bike lanes and better-maintained streets.

Concerning their own vehicle safety, Bird as taken steps to improve its fleet to design new e-scooters with new and enhanced features, some of which include:

  • durable brakes
  • reinforced hardware
  • kick-start function to prevent unintended throttle or jerky acceleration
  • Non-slip surfaced
  • Reinforced caution labeling

Perhaps they are on to something and a partnership between the scooter companies and the cities could prove beneficial in curbing the recent rise in scooter-related injuries.

Austin City Scooter Laws

While a scooter rider can never know the integrity of the device they are about to ride, there are some things they can do to make their journey as safe as possible for themselves and those around them. According to the City of Austin, the following rules apply to all e-scooter riders:

  • Always yield to pedestrians to avoid an accident.
  • Park your scooter in a secure position, ensure it is upright when you leave it and only park it in designated areas such as, furniture zones of sidewalks, public bike racks and other marked zones.
  • Give at least 3 feet clearance on sidewalks for accessibility.
  • Do not ride scooters in unauthorized areas – some of which include private property and parkland, state-owned land.
  • Report any devices you see lying on the ground or parked improperly
  • Wear a helmet!

TALK TO ZINDA LAW GROUP

If you have been hurt due to the negligence of another party and have decided to file an injury claim, our personal injury lawyers are on hand to help you navigate the legal process. We will focus on building the strongest case possible and seeking maximum compensation for your injuries while you focus on recovering. Furthermore, our No Fee Guarantee means that you will pay nothing unless we win your case!

Call Zinda Law Group today at (888) 671-5127 for a free consultation with one of our experienced scooter accident attorneys.

Meetings with attorneys by appointment only.