Scooter Syndrome: Why people think it’s okay to ride dangerously

Scooters have made a major landfall in Indianapolis. And, yes on the Indiana University campus in Bloomington, Indiana. We’re not the first (nor will we be the last), to allow scooters in the city. Many proponents have proclaimed the scooters are reshaping transportation in Indy. Good to know.

However, what’s really clear is very few people pay any attention to the law. For example, look at the number of injuries from rider mishaps. In fact, a nurse told me the hospital added a specific code for scooter accident victims. Good to get the coding right. According to Craig Kelley & Faultless LCC, there were up to 60 injuries reported a month at the end of 2018.

The City of Indianapolis has attempted to deal with the scooter populace by adding rules and writing a few tickets. An article titled “’Do we literally have to call every time?’: Scooters in the way rile Downtown businesses” by Ethan May, explains the difficulty too few officers have in trying to enforce the rules of “6,000 scooters out here riding where they shouldn’t be riding.” It’s a very confusing scenario. Are scooters motorized vehicles? Are they two-wheeled contraptions, like bicycles? Should scooters have preference over pedestrians? These questions only add to the confusion about proper etiquette and safety rules.

The fact remains, there will be more serious scooter accidents in our future. The saying goes, “You cannot legislate morality,” or, in this case, you can’t force people to play safe. Sure, we have seatbelt rules for autos, helmet requirements for young bike riders (if they wear them), and you cannot ride in the bed of an open pickup truck in Indiana. Thank God. But, we have all seen people hanging out of the back of a truck, or riding at 20 mph on a busy downtown sidewalk. A one-year study from UCLA, Stanford and the VA hospital states that of patients with electric scooter injuries, 40.2% of the injuries were head injuries. This goes to show why it is important to follow the law.

People are getting hurt. People are getting really hurt. The number of face injuries and concussions in a “Scooter Town,” is showing the potential danger for those being reckless or foolish. However, there are law-abiding citizens who jump on a board with wheels and scoot off at break-neck speeds. Sadly, a lot of people are unqualified to ride a motorized conveyance at any speed. For example, the scooter law in Indianapolis prohibits a small child from being on his/her own scooter. But, my unscientific assessment of the scooters on the Circle in Indy shows me that many parents actually encourage young family members to jump on a scooter and ride like the wind. That’s a really bad idea. How can a child of 10 be expected to understand the traffic rules and the major confusion over where you ride the scooter—sidewalk or street?

It’s happened in other cities. Sadly, it may happen here. What are we talking about? A scooter fatality. I’m of the opinion that scooters will have more accidents, and serious ones, in the future. That’s not a hard prediction to make. I know it would be beneficial for unregulated scooters to stay off the sidewalks. After all, small kids, the elderly and others may not have the ability to skirt the scooters as they plow down the avenue.

What have we got going for us when it comes to scooter safety? Winter, my friend. Sure, some brave souls will venture out on scooters during bad weather, but at least here in the Midwest, we will be dodging potholes more than convoys of scooters.

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