In December 2018, both Lyft and Uber released rentable scooters onto the streets of San Diego. They join a wave of companies looking to capitalize on the dockless scooter rental trend that’s sweeping the country. However, this e-scooter craze has dangers that many users don’t know about. Here’s what our San Diego personal injury law office has learned about the dangers dockless scooters pose to your family.
How Often Do Scooter Accidents Happen?
It’s almost been a year since dockless scooters began to invade our streets and sidewalks. Now, you can see them at almost every street corner, but that popularity doesn’t mean they are a safe travel option. Reports of injuries have poured in from cities across the nation, and many of those reports come from our area.
Scripps Mercy Hospital reported that their facility sees an average of 10 scooter-related injuries a month, not including pedestrians hit by scooters. However, those numbers seem to be growing. In December, a man lost his life to a scooter accident in Chula Vista, the first fatal scooter incident in San Diego County. Then in March, a 53-year-old tourist lost his life in a deadly downtown San Diego scooter crash. Fatalities and injuries are being reported across California, and their causes have many city officials riled.
Do Dockless Electric Scooters Malfunction Often?
Some injury victims are reporting scooter malfunctions as a major factor in their crashes. Here in San Diego, a 63-year-old reported that the brakes on her dockless rental scooter malfunctioned. The resulting injuries left her with an $8,000 medical bill. After over 40 people reported crashing due to the handlebars of their rental scooters breaking off, Lime recalled all Okai scooters in its fleet. Other crash reports include stalling, throttles jammed in the accelerate position and scooter baseboards breaking during rides.
Are Scooters Safe to Ride in Traffic?
Another safety issue concerning experts across the nation is whether these motorized street scooters are even legal to have on the road. Each state has different laws, which is making things difficult for scooter riders, especially tourists. Here in California, scooters are only permitted on the street. However, many tourists don’t realize this and drive these vehicles on walkways, putting pedestrians in danger.
The law also says that these electric scooters cannot drive down roadways with a posted speed limit of 25 mph or higher unless there is a Class II or IV bikeway. These scooters are also restricted to a speed limit of 15 mph. California law also recognizes electric scooters and bicycles as road-legal vehicles, something many motorists don’t realize. This can cause problems when automobile drivers neglect to share the road, which can lead to crashes and injuries. Often, the only protection riders have against these crashes is safety gear such as helmets or knee and elbow pads. Yet, the only safety gear required by our state’s laws is a helmet, and that is only for scooter riders under the age of 18. Helmets are optional for anyone over that age.
Are Dockless Scooter Companies Liable for E-Scooter Crashes?
With so many issues surrounding the safety of dockless electric scooters, many are wondering if responsibility for these crashes should fall upon the rental companies. But riders are always forced to sign a liability waiver as a part of renting these scooters. This prevents some injury victims from filing claims against rental companies, but that could soon change.
A bill in the California Legislature is proposing a ban on the liability waivers used by many companies. This could mean injury victims will have the chance to recover their losses after a terrible electric scooter crash. This bill also requires scooter rental companies to insure riders for up to $5 million—just like how rideshare companies must insure passengers for $1 million.
Even the San Diego City Council is stepping up regulation of these transportation companies. On April 23, 2019, councilmembers voted on new regulations for companies that operate dockless scooters in our city. The council is requiring companies to use geofencing to restrict where these scooters can go, and where they can park. These geofences will also regulate scooter speed limits depending on what areas of the city they are in. Companies will also require operating permits at a price of $150 per rental scooter or bike each year.
Are There Any Other Protections for Dockless Scooter Riders?
To learn more about your rights and what you can do if you’re injured while riding a scooter, contact our San Diego accident lawyer. Daniel Tamez is an experienced attorney who has helped many clients at the Traffic Accident Law Center. Call (619) 882-1111 to schedule your free consultation today.