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The National Academies

BTSCRP BTS-10 [Active]

E-Scooter Safety: Issues and Solutions

  Project Data
Funds: $490,000
Staff Responsibility: Richard Retting
Research Agency: University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Principal Investigator: Laura Sandt
Effective Date: 6/5/2020
Completion Date: 12/5/2022
Comments: Research underway

BACKGROUND

Since their introduction in the United States in 2017, the use of electric scooters (e-scooters) has expanded to the streets and sidewalks of more than 100 cities, and all indicators point to continued growth.  E-scooters offer many potential benefits, including reduced air pollution in comparison to competing forms of transportation, first and last mile connections to public transit, increased mobility options, and new revenue sources for cities.  Recently, however, there has been a growing concern with injuries associated with e-scooter use (https://www.consumerreports.org/product-safety/national-crash-data-from-e-scooter-ride-share-companies-revealed-for-first-time/). Most of the e-scooter injuries were head injuries from falls and did not involve a motor vehicle; hence, it is difficult to track e-scooter crashes through traffic crash reports.  Nevertheless, the emergency room data clearly show that a major contribution to injuries is a lack of helmet use and novice rider overrepresentation, including a significant subset of injuries to patients younger than 18 years.  As e-scooters proliferate, there is the potential to add risk to other vulnerable road users such as pedestrians (particularly the sight impaired and elderly) and wheel chair users, especially if e-scooters are allowed to operate on sidewalks.
 
Research on e-scooters is needed for state and local agencies, and industry partners, to help manage safety risks more effectively and efficiently. Knowing when and where risky behaviors may occur could inform injury prevention approaches, including education, training, enforcement, policy, and changes to the built environment.

OBJECTIVE
 
The objective of this research is to identify emerging behavioral safety issues arising from the expanding use of e-scooters, both rental and privately owned, and develop comprehensive guidance to help affected agencies plan for and mitigate related safety problems. The guidance should include tools, policy alternatives, educational materials, institutional requirements, and other relevant techniques to mitigate if not eliminate identified risks. 

STATUS: Research underway.

  
 

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