Wherever electric scooters have appeared around the globe, severe injuries have followed.
Now the United Kingdom — where motorized scooters are banned from public roads and sidewalks — is seeking to publicize the danger associated the devices. The Department of Transport, which oversees British transportation networks, has persuaded Amazon, the global e-commerce giant, to pressure electronic scooter manufacturers to make clear in their online listings that their devices cannot be used on public roads.
The Sunday Times reported that the DOT wrote to multiple retailers, including Amazon, six months ago “to remind them about ‘responsible advertising.’” (Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos owns The Washington Post.)
“We have confirmed we will write to sellers of electronic scooters to ask them to amend the wording on their listings to say that the scooters cannot be used on the public highway," an Amazon spokesperson told The Washington Post after being reached by e-mail. "I’m afraid I can’t go into any more detail than that.”
The spokesman added that the potential change would apply only in the United Kingdom, where people routinely flout the ban on the increasingly popular devices, according to the Independent.
The government action was a reaction to several devastating accidents and one high-profile death in recent days that have focused public attention on the dangers of electric scooters.
The Independent reported that a teenage boy was badly injured in London and another teenager sustained a serious head injury after crashing into a bus stop outside London.
A day earlier, a well-known YouTube star was struck and killed by a truck while riding a scooter in London, according to news reports. Emily Hartridge’s channel featuring videos on relationships, health and gender attracted hundreds of thousands of followers. She was 35.
Hatridge’s death was the first involving an electric scooter rider in the UK, though similar fatalities have occurred in the United States.
Last month, Consumer Reports confirmed that at least eight people in the U.S. have died while using rentable, dockless scooters since the fall of 2017. Thousands more have been badly injured riding the devices or after being struck by them on public sidewalks, leading to an influx of injuries at emergency rooms around the nation, according to doctors surveyed by The Post over the last year. Many accident victims have claimed the devices malfunctioned while they were riding, leading them to crash.
In many cases, doctors say, the injuries are severe and involve the kind of breaks, lacerations and brain trauma typically seen in car and moped accidents.
More than a year after the scooters’ arrival, the first wave of injury statistics associated with scooters has begun to emerge. A study published in January in the medical journal JAMA Network Open found that more people were injured while riding standing electric scooters than by riding bicycles or traveling on foot in the year ending August 2018.
Of the 249 patients who received treatment for scooter-related injuries, nearly 28 percent suffered contusions, sprains and lacerations. About 30 percent had fractures, and just over 40 percent were treated for head injuries, the study found. Nearly all the patients went home after being treated in emergency rooms, but 15 were admitted to a hospital, including two with severe head injuries who were placed in intensive care units.
“The Riders share roads with fast-moving vehicular traffic but appear to underestimate hazards; we found that 94.3% of observed riders in our community were not wearing a helmet,” the study said of scooter users.