Electric scooter riding is on the rise and we're quickly starting to see how it has the potential to reinvent urban transportation as we know it. Not only is it convenient, it may also decrease traffic congestion.
Despite all the potential, e-scooter riding isn't all fun and games. In fact, over a four year period (2014-2018), 39.113 people got injured riding them in the US alone. What's worse, over this period, the amount of e-scooter-related hospital admission shot in the air, rising by 365% (from 313 to 1374).
It's time to change this sad development for the better. According to another study on injuries associated with e-scooter use, upwards of 80.2% were due to falls. It is fair to assume that in the vast majority of these cases, the riders were at fault. There will always be outside sources (like cars and other vehicles) you can't control, but optimizing what you can will help you a long way.
We reached out to more than 2,000 e-scooter riders on Facebook to hear what their favorite safety measures/rules that they used themselves when riding were. We got a lot of interesting answers, so let's get into it the X best electric scooter safety tips for avoiding crashes and injuries.
This tip may seem obvious, but there's a reason it got the most votes by far. If you're used to riding a bike, you know it's not an uncommon habit to enjoy the view and observe whatever is around you - in fact, this goes for everything as we as humans are curious by nature.
This is a very bad habit to incorporate into your electric scooter riding. You're riding on small wheels and unless you're using a high-end e-scooter, you'll have limited suspension. A hole in the asphalt or a bump in the road could effectively wipe you out and recovering your balance on an e-scooter is very difficult for the very same reasons.
Not to mention, as most people ride in urban areas and with other road users not yet used to e-scooters in the streets, it's even more important to observe the traffic and think a few seconds ahead at any time.
It may seem self-evident but keeping your focus on the road and the surrounding traffic is crucial. A lot of injuries can be avoided if you have respect for the speed you're going at even though it seems easy and comfortable.
Oh, maybe there's a new message on my phone. Better check it out real quick and reply...
No, no, NO! When riders get overconfident on their e-scooters, they may think they'll be able to easily browse their phone or do something else with one of their hands as long as they got one on the throttle.
This is a big mistake. It's also something I learned the hard way myself. I wanted to let a friend know with text that I was on my way to his house and instead of stopping, I just slowed down and pulled out my phone. Two seconds later, I find myself on the ground with scrapes up my right arm and leg and a broken phone screen.
One-arm riding is particularly dangerous on electric scooters because of the small contact patch on the road. Compared to a bike, you're riding on much smaller wheels which also means you have less ground clearance for cornering and that transmit bumps and jolts much more prominently to the rider.
When we ride, we constantly use both our hands to make small adjustments that even out our balance point. When we take one (or both) hands out of that equation, we only have one hand to adjust with and naturally, this will be very hard if the e-scooter starts to tilt in the opposite direction.
If you absolutely must use that phone, please do yourself and your elbows a favor: Stop the scooter for a second and get back to business when you're ready.
Out on the road, there are always things you aren't in control of. Inattentive drivers and human error is always present. Not all crashes are preventable so how you prepare yourself should an accident occur is crucial.
Safety gear guys. This can be the difference between life and death or a life in a wheelchair. Out of all the various pieces of safety equipment, wearing a proper helmet is the most important. Don't believe me? We crafted an infographic regarding the danger and nature of e-scooter accidents below that'll almost surely change your mind.
The above statistics are based on the most authoritative and in-depth e-scooter injury studies done so far. As you can see, most injuries (40.2%) happen to the head. Despite that, only 4.8% of the injured subjects wore a helmet which is extremely low compared to a similar study conducted on bicyclists where 25.1% of the subjects wore a helmet.
Looking at how helmet usage helped bicyclists, there's a dramatic reduction in head injuries and their severity simply from wearing a helmet. And that's from using a bike helmet only!
As far as helmet selection goes, you need a bike helmet at the bare minimum - and we highly recommend going for something better. If you're riding on fast electric scooters, you should definitely get a full-face helmet that'll protect your jaw/chin and not only your head. Mountain bike or motorcycle helmets will work well for this.
For more information on helmet selection, see our in-depth helmet guide.
One of the scenarios in which quite a few accidents happen is when people look back over their shoulder. It's common to do this when you have to see if any cars are behind you before a turn.
The issue here is that you may very easily lose your balance as your focus point is changing and your body weight is shifting. All the small balance adjustments you make when riding are almost impossible to do when your body is off balance and you're looking behind.
To minimize the risk when looking back, always slow down. It'll be a lot easier to maintain the electric scooter balance and should you end up falling, the impact with the ground is likely not as serious. If you're looking back to cross the road, I recommend coming to a full stop, and taking a stance as a speeding car close to you could effectively pull you out of balance as well.
Like any other motor-powered vehicle, electric scooters require maintenance every now and then as riding wears them down. Although your scooter may be plug-and-play right out of the box, it'll eventually need a caring hand to perform properly.
Therefore, conducting regular inspections and getting to know your scooter before riding is important.
Personally, I have a shortlist I run through before every ride and I recommend you do so too:
A deeper inspection once every week or two is also highly recommend and could include:
Ensuring that your scooter is always optimally set up is very important for the safety of the rider. Once you get your scooter, you should make sure to read the manual carefully and get familiar with how it is built. You don't have to be a full-on mechanic to understand the basics and it'll surely give you some piece of mind knowing that the technical aspect of your electric scooter safety is up to par.
One thing that many electric scooters lack is proper lightning. This is crucial for visibility in low-light settings. If you're out at night, not only do you want to be able to see the road ahead, you also want others to be able to see you.
Most of the front lights on e-scooters simply don't hold the power needed to properly illuminate the path in front of you so we highly recommend acquiring an external one with more lumens and equip it on your handlebar.
Our headlight recommendation: NiteRider Lumina 1100 Boost
Taillights don't have to be as bright as headlights because they don't really have to light up anything - they are just there to clearly show your position. Often the ones on your e-scooter are bright enough, but the low position near the ground can be problematic.
You may want to consider getting something you can attach to a backpack or your shirt.
Our recommendation: CYGOLITE Hotshot
You may be thinking: If I get a helmet, why do I need eye protection? Well, if the helmet you're getting doesn't have any type of visor, getting a separate pair is a good idea.
One of the most annoying things that happen all the time when riding at decently high speeds is that bugs will get in your face - and sometimes in your eyes. Not only is this highly irritating, it can also be dangerous.
It'll shift your focus from the road. Commonly, you'll use one hand to scratch your eye to try and get rid of the bug that may be stuck behind your eyelids. However, this directly contradicts one of the previous safety tips (always keep both hands on the handlebar).
Not only can a pair of riding sunglasses protect you from annoying flies and bugs, it can also protect your vision from a blinding summer sun.
If you don't want to get a dedicated pair, pull out a cheap pair of sunglasses and you'll at least be somewhat protected.