Are Scooters Dangerous?

The media is flooded with reporting like this:  Scooter crashes in the Valley are causing serious injuries to riders and their wallets. they all follow the same pattern of “reporting”, they mention a few anecdotes, and a not-useful collection of statistics.

Scooter crashes must be rampant, or so goes the storyline: “Tempe began receiving so many calls for scooter injuries the fire department set up a special tab in its record-keeping system to specifically track scooter calls”. “On average, Glass said the department is averaging 29 calls for service a month”. Is 29 a lot? That’s about one per day. How many calls does the Tempe Fire Dept field in a month? We know that there are thousands of reported MV crashes per year in Tempe., but that’s not mentioned.

Not mentioned is there are well over 100,000 motor-vehicle crashes a year just in Arizona, with nearly a thousand a year killed, and many thousands injured — most of them motorists; some pedestrians, and a few bicyclists. How does this compare? We get no context.

The anecdote about intracranial hemorrhages sound scary, but again, no context. Most traumatic brain injuries occur from motor vehicle crashes and are suffered by people driving or riding in/on a motor vehicle, including motorcyclists. I get the impression that a helmet might be especially prudent for scooter riders given the dynamics of the gadgets (but I don’t really know) — note that there are no mandatory helmet laws in Arizona (except for some local laws affecting only minors); not for motorcyclists, not for bicyclists. Would a law be a good idea?

Here’s some stats just from Tempe’s reported MV collisions. There are thousands of crashes reported by Tempe PD annually; and again, there are fatalities, some serious injuries, etc.

Data exists, but at the moment it’s not well-shared; local regulation of scooter companies may address this. In any event there appear to be hundreds of scooters deployed around Tempe ridden some number of times a day; this currently according to the data collected by Tempe FD amounts to 1 call per day for some sort of service (presumably usually a crash of some sort). Is that a lot?

Cars, drivers and driving are sometimes dangerous, often times flagrantly so, no transportation is ever going to be completely safe; obviously escooter riding is going to carry some danger.

We deserve better data, and unfortunately both the rules-of-the-road, and (traffic) crash reporting for escooters remains somewhat fuzzy. Escooters for better or worse are tending to be made equivalent to a bicycle by local law. Crash reporting is likely to be opaque since there’s no “scooterist” person-type (the three possibilities are motorist/passenger, bicyclist, pedestrian).

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