Look around, and you’ll find no shortage of stories about the rise of injuries linked to rentable e-scooters. But until you’ve read firsthand accounts of shattered arms and metal plates in faces, it’s hard to comprehend just how completely these little scooties can wreck your shit.
Earlier this year, a Consumer Reports investigation identified over 1,500 injuries and four deaths connected to e-scooters since 2017. To get a better sense of what a rent-a-scooter wreck looks like, Gizmodo turned to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission’s (CPSC) public information database, which collects harm reports submitted by safety officials, healthcare workers, and ordinary Americans.
Anonymized and unvetted, the CPSC “does not guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or adequacy” of these anecdotal accounts. Still, the reported e-scooter incidents provide a grisly glimpse at the injuries behind the dry statistics. Broken teeth, a six-figure hospital bill, and a face “gushing” blood are just some of the outcomes e-scooter casualties say they’ve suffered. Read the reports, all of which were submitted in the last five months and have had identifying information redacted by the CPSC, below.
Incident Date: 12/8/2018
My 22 year old daughter was using a Lime Electric Scooter in Old Town, Scottsdale AZ. The footpath took a sharp turn and the scooter was unable to stop to slow down to take the corner. As a result, she was thrown off the scooter and was knocked unconscious for over 10 minutes. She suffered severe head trauma as well as trauma to the lower back, chest, arm and face. She was taken by ambulance, unconscious to the closest trauma ER hospital. She suffered a double skull fracture and brain bleed and swelling to the head. She remained in the ICU for 4 days and was sent home. Upon returning home, she suffered extreme pain which was uncontrollable from non IV meds, from the brain bleed “feathering” out in tight areas of her brain, and went back to the ICU in hospital again. She lost a month of work, and is looking at a 120K hospital bill to date.
Incident Date: 11/5/2018
I rented a Bird electric scooter for the first time. I was riding it from campus to an off campus parking lot. I had never rented one before. It started to wobble but I did not think of anything of it. I continued to ride and when I went down a slight incline the bar that holds the handlebar detached from the scooter and I flipped over where the handlebar should be. I ended up going to the ER which it was concluded that I separated my shoulder. I have been in a sling since the incident and will still be in a sling for a few weeks.
Incident Date: 12/29/2018
On the date of December 29, 2018 on why working in San Diego, a partner of mine and myself rented Lime Scooters to travel back to our hotel after dinner. During the ride while crossing an intersection footpath, I went over a 2-4 inch curve walk which caused my scooter to flip toward launching me foward over the scooter face first on the pavement. I was rushed to the hospital and was diagnosed with a broken jaw, split lip, broken teeth, open cut chin, and dislocated shoulder. Four plates were inserted throughout my face along with stitches. My concern is the tires on the Lime scooters should be bigger for better impact on bumpy roads.
Incident Date: 6/15/2018
I experienced an injury on a Lime Bike Scooter in Santa Clara St, downtown San Jose. The handle bar shifted to the left and I fell.
Unfortunately it resulted in two broken teeth and scuffed face. My dentist stated my insurance will not cover all the fees.
Incident Date: 6/15/2018
On June 15th, I rented a Lime Scooter bike in [REDACTED] and was riding the scooter along the footpaths in the downtown area and when I went to cross the street and was going up the crosswalk ramp the front wheel broke off which caused me to fall off face forward into the footpath @ [REDACTED] about 5:00pm. I had blood gushing out of my face onto the footpath and I went to the car repair store on the corner (A Street Auto Service) where the guys in the shop helped me with paper towels and called Lime customer service to report the incident and then I went to the hospital. On my way to the hospital I called Lime customer service again to report the incident and location of the bike. On both calls, we were told there is no department to handle reporting injuries and I had to email my information. I went to Mercy Hospital and needed three stitches in my chin and was given medicine for pain to my arm and shoulder from the fall. Upon my return home to [REDACTED], on June 22nd I did get the stitches taken out by my local doctor
I did file a claim with the company after the incident on 6/15/18 and as of today, the company has neglected to follow up with even a simple phone call to help me pay the emergency room bill. I have tried to contact them and sent multiple emails with no response for 5 months. I don’t believe that this company is responsible and capable to handling this issue with the dangerous product that they are providing.
Incident Date: 10/27/2018
I was heading West on [REDACTED] towards the [REDACTED] intersection when I decided I was ready to end my ride and drop the scooter off in a Bird-approved location (on the footpath). I found a ramp in front of the garage of the Jewish Federation of Greater [REDACTED] ([REDACTED]).
However, when the front wheel of the scooter hit the 1.5" curb of the apron, I was thrown off the scooter. The front wheel stopped when it hit the curb.
I feel that, this scooter (Byrd) is defective because the wheel should have been able to make it over the 1.5” curb.
Because of this accident/incident I suffered a closed trimalleolar fracture of my ankle. I went through surgery and still recuperating.
Incident Date: 11/29/2018
Was riding LIME SCOOTER with THUMB BRAKE as opposed to lever brake. When I needed to stop, I discovered that the thumb brake was not working at all, and I crashed. Luckily I have only a severe sprained ankle and crutches for some time and nothing worse. I did go to hospital.
Incident Date: 2/14/2019
Lime green and white electric rental scooter. Riding and wheel locked without warning. I was thrown into a street and broke my arm in the fall. Many such reports convinced me to retain an attorney and file a lawsuit against Lime.
Was my 23rd ride with Lime scooters so im no amateur. This thing malfunctioned period. lime recalled its entire fleet from Switzerland last month due to this same issue.
Incident Date: 8/19/2018
On August 19,2018. I was vacationing in [REDACTED] with my family, and decided to ride an electric lime scooter. After riding the scooter for a few minutes, one of the scooter that I rented was not working properly due to malfunction of the brakes. The breaks on the lime scooter were not working during the incident. I tried to slow down and stop the scooter before a curvy turn and the breaks were not working. Therefore I lost control of the scooter and ended up with a right broken radius bone, wrist dislocation and dislocation on my right ankle. [...]
Incident Date: 9/16/2018
I rented a Lime scooter on the 16th September. I was a first-time user and suffered a fall when I transitioned from the street to the apron of a garage driveway. There was a 3cm lip between the street and the driveway, which caused the scooter to buck. I was thrown off the scooter and broke my fall with my right arm (I stiff-armed my fall while holding my palm out to absorb the impact). The fall tore two ligaments/muscles in my right shoulder, which required surgery, which i had on the 16th of October. [...]
Asked for comment, a Lime spokesperson told Gizmodo “the safety of our riders and the community is our highest priority” and highlighted the company’s recent safety initiatives, such as a pledge to give out 250,000 free helmets.
“We look forward to continue working with the industry, medical community and regulators to create a meaningful ecosystem for this new and evolving technology,” the spokesperson added.
Similarly, Paul Steely White, Bird’s director of safety policy and advocacy, told Gizmodo in a statement that:
Safety precedes everything we do at Bird, and operators and cities alike must act to improve safety. Bird formed the Global Safety Advisory Board, which shapes policies that improve the safety of those riding Birds and other e-scooters.
He also pointed to Bird’s safety initiatives, such as requiring riders to verify they’re 18 and ceasing operations after midnight.
In the past, the company has responded to reports of e-scooter injuries by comparing them to the far greater number of Americans killed in car accidents. But most people know a F-250 can turn you into tomato paste. Fewer probably realise that the big-boy Razor you rent for a buck a ride can hit 24km an hour and leave you with “brain bleed.”
In conclusion, ride safe, check your brakes, and wear a goddamn helmet.