Tourists must love those Segways.
You see them all over Washington, especially this time of year: Segway-mounted tour guides cruising the Mall and other landmarks, their customers bobbing and lurching behind them like a string of ducklings. Tours cost about $60 or so and offer people the chance to look goofy while covering a lot of ground with more fun and flexibility than a tour bus.
But it turns out that more people have been injured crashing Segways than electric scooters or hoverboards in the past year or so, according to a local hospital.
Between January 2017 and April 2018, George Washington University Hospital treated seven people for Segway-related injuries, compared with one on an electric scooter and one on an electric hoverboard, a GWU hospital spokeswoman said. During the same period, bicycle injuries stayed the same, she said. There were more than 1,000 bicycle crashes and 682 injuries from them in that period in the city, according to figures from Open Data D.C.
In 2010, GWU’s emergency room physicians published a paper in the Annals of Emergency Medicine, raising concerns about the number of cases they were seeing. In a three-year span, doctors reported treating 41 people, most of whom were summer visitors. Of those, about 1 in 4 had to be admitted for treatment, including some with traumatic brain injuries. Last year, we saw a New Zealand tourist crash outside a tour office while she was practicing. The crash broke her leg, forcing her and her husband to cut short their visit and fly home.
So it seemed like a good time for an update, not just because this is peak tourist season, but because Segway also announced recently that self-balancing “e-skates” are on the way. They look fun, sort of like a cross between in-line roller skates and Mercury’s winged sandals. But other spoilsports at media outlets such as Wired UK and the Verge also fretted about safety. As Engadget put it, “Segway’s new e-skates are probably a terrible idea: Accidents will happen.”
The company, on its website, says the Segway Drift W1 would be the first of its kind and “perfect for the young generation who dare to stand out.” Or fall over.
— Jason Holt and Kate Rabinowitz contributed to this report.
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