Questioning the safety of new technologies is a tale as old as time. Back in the 1890s (1), bicycles were fraught with controversy, resulting in a notable amount of bicycle-accident-related newspaper coverage.
In 2021, technologies have evolved considerably, but similar concerns persist. These days, electric scooters are the new technology in question. As electric scooters have surged in popularity, their associated accidents have increased as well, begging the question: Is an electric scooter safe?
In short, electric scooters can be ridden safely or recklessly. It all comes down to the rider.
To ride an electric scooter safely, you just need to follow a few basic safety precautions. Below, we’ll discuss the potential dangers of riding e-scooters and provide 12 ways to avoid them.
Why Are Electric Scooters Dangerous?
As with all types of vehicles, electric scooters have some safety risks. Most of their accidents involve carelessness or inexperience. Falling is the most common e-scooter accident. In addition, the following percentage of e-scooter accidents involve(2):
11% – Colliding with an object
10% – Hitting a curb
9% – Getting hit by a car
Most electric scooter mishaps only result in a few minor scrapes and bruises. However, some rare accidents can cause more serious injuries.
But don’t write off electric scooters just yet… While electric scooters can be dangerous, they don’t have to be. In fact, electric scooters are no more dangerous than bicycles when ridden properly. (3)
Just like kitchen knives, their safety depends on how you use them.
12 Electric Scooter Safety Tips
Now that you know the risks associated with electric scooter riding, let’s dive into 12 ways you can avoid them:
#1 Wear a Helmet
A mere 4% of electric scooter riders wear helmets. (4) The majority of riders simply assume they don’t need one. This assumption may stem from the fact that shared e-scooter rentals (like Bird and Lime) don’t provide helmets with their scooters.
Sadly, electric-scooter-related head and neck injuries have been on the rise in recent years (5). They make up 28% of reported e-scooter accidents (6).
Fortunately, there’s an easy fix—wear a helmet.
A well-fitted helmet can protect you from a serious head injury, while simultaneously shading your face from harmful UV rays.
Not only is wearing a helmet the safe thing to do, but it’s also the law in several states and provinces.
#2 Practice In a Safe Place First
Learning to ride an electric scooter is easier than learning to ride a bike. However, one-third of electric scooter riders get injured on their first ride (7). As a result, it’s a good idea to practice somewhere safe before you hit the public roads. An empty parking lot or a quiet neighborhood will do.
By embarking on your maiden voyage somewhere safe, you’ll reduce your risk of getting into an accident. Taking cars and pedestrians out of the equation will also allow you to focus solely on strengthening your muscle memory, balance, and coordination.
Electric Scooter Practice Tips
During your practice run, you can cautiously experiment with:
Remember to keep a small bend in your knees while you ride. Also, always slow down gradually before you try to brake. Braking suddenly at a high speed could send you flying out of your electric scooter.
Once you’ve gotten the hang of e-scooter riding, you can venture onto busier roads with confidence.
#3 Ride Slowly
Many high-powered electric scooters boast impressive top speeds. While riding fast can be exhilarating, don’t let your inner thrill-seeker overpower your commitment to safety.
The rate of e-scooter injuries appears to be correlated with riding speed (8), so slowing down is a simple way to keep yourself safe.
Additionally, part of your legal responsibility as an e-scooter rider is to stay within the speed limit. Each city has slightly different speed limits for e-scooters, so make sure to find out the one in your area. If a lot of pedestrians, cars, or cyclists are nearby, go even slower so you can stop suddenly if need be.
#4 Follow the Rules of the Road
While you don’t need a driver’s license to ride an electric scooter in most places, you still need to be familiar with the rules of the road. Following them will help keep you and everyone else out of harm’s way.
Some basic road rules for e-scooters include:
- Driving under the e-scooter speed limit
- Stopping at stop signs and red lights
- Waiting for the right of way before turning
- Watching out for pedestrians
- Avoiding sidewalks whenever possible
Specific electric scooter laws vary by location, so make sure to brush up on the road rules in your area.
#5 Ride Defensively
There’s a reason why car insurance companies give drivers a discount for attending defensive driving courses. Driving defensively can help you avoid getting into an accident.
While you may be following the rules of the road to a tee, other motorists may not be. You can prevent getting into an accident with them by:
Leaving a healthy distance between you and other vehicles – Tailgating isn’t just annoying—it can be dangerous. If you don’t leave enough room between you and the vehicles in front of you, it can increase your risk of getting into a rear-end collision.
You never know when the driver or rider in front of you is going to stop suddenly. If you have plenty of room between you and them, you’ll have enough time to decelerate and brake before it's too late.
Signaling – Motorists and bikers use signals to let others know their intentions, and you should too. If your e-scooter doesn’t have electric turn signals and brake lights, you can signal with your hands.
Stop – Extend your left arm and bend it down at your elbow.
Left turn – Extend your left arm straight out to the side.
Right turn – Extend your right arm straight out to the side.
Even if you signal, don’t forget to look around before you make any sudden moves. You can’t be sure that others on the road saw your signals, especially if you’re in their blind spot.
Watch the road attentively – When riding an electric scooter, your eyes should be firmly peeled on the road. You always need to know what’s ahead in your path.
Some potential roadside hazards to watch out for include:
- Bumps or cracks in the road
- Street lights
- Fire hydrants
- Shattered glass
When you pay close attention to what’s in front of you, you can successfully swerve around upcoming obstacles and potentially prevent an injury or flat tire.
Skip the tricks – You may have seen cool kick scooter tricks at your local skate park or online. While these tricks are achievable on non-motorized scooters, electric scooters are another story. Attempting tricks on an electric scooter is reckless and not recommended.
#6 Leave Your Phone Alone
Scooting around is not the time for taking selfies or texting people back. Texting and riding may be even more dangerous than texting and driving, since you don’t have the barrier of a car frame and airbag to protect you in a collision.
While riding an e-scooter, you need both hands on deck to:
- Steer properly
- Maneuver around obstacles
- Signal your turns and stops
- Maintain your balance
Even wearing headphones while you ride can pose some risks. You want to be able to hear what’s going on around you so you can steer clear of hazards.
#7 Don’t Drink and Ride
This rule should go without saying, but you should never drink and ride. Alcohol impairs your judgment, so it may lead you to ride more recklessly than you normally would. It also slows down your reaction times, making it harder for you to prevent an imminent accident. As a result, it’s not surprising that nearly half of serious e-scooter injuries involve alcohol (9).
While this rule should be common sense, driving under the influence is much more common than you think, especially in cities where shared e-scooters are scattered around the street. People often hop on these e-scooters on their way back from the bar or club, not recognizing the risks involved.
Not only is riding under the influence dangerous, but it’s also illegal. If you get caught, you could end up with a DUI.
#8 Scoot Solo, Or Not At All
Electric scooters are strictly one-person vehicles. You should never attempt to ride with another passenger hanging onto you.
While rookie riders may be tempted to try this out, it increases the chances of an accident significantly. Riding tandem makes it much harder to balance and turn.
Electric scooters also have set weight capacities. Most of them can only hold a little over 200 pounds. Two passengers can easily exceed this amount, which may damage your scooter and get you both injured.
#9 Be Wary of Wet Weather
Riding an electric scooter on slick, slippery surfaces isn’t the safest idea. You should avoid riding in heavy rain altogether if you can. If you can’t, make sure to go slow. Take your time to turn, since wet wheels are more prone to sliding out from under you.
Also, keep in mind that some e-scooters aren’t totally waterproof. These scooters shouldn’t be ridden through puddles or in heavy rain, as it could cause them mechanical problems.
#10 Use Lights and Reflectors At Night
If you ride your electric scooter at night, lights and reflectors are a must. Riding in the dark is inherently more dangerous, since it’s harder for other motorists to see your slim vehicle on the road.
Make your presence known with:
- Front and rear lights (make sure they’re in working order before you go out for a night ride)
- Reflective clothing
#11 Keep Up With Your Scooter’s Maintenance
Like all vehicles, electric scooters may need some occasional TLC to stay in tip-top shape. By taking excellent care of your electric scooter, it will be less likely to malfunction on the road.
Here are some basic e-scooter maintenance tips:
Tires – When you get home from a ride, it’s a good idea to check your tires for punctures. This way, you can fix an emerging flat tire right away.
You should also check their tire pressure to ensure it's in the ideal range. Low tire pressure can damage your rims, while high tire pressure could cause your tires to burst on the road.
Battery – Every electric scooter will have specific charging instructions. By following yours correctly, you can maintain the longevity of your battery.
Brakes – It’s important to check your brakes on a regular basis. Bad brakes could result in a serious accident. If your brakes need to be replaced, you can either do it yourself or request a repair from your manufacturer.
Fortunately, e-scooters require considerably less maintenance than other types of vehicles, including bikes. Much of their maintenance can be done at home with the help of your manual and a few YouTube videos. If you’re not mechanically inclined, you can always ask your manufacturer to tune up your ride instead.
#12 Choose a High-Quality Scooter
Lastly, you can enhance your safety by selecting a high-quality electric scooter that’s undergone adequate safety testing. High-quality e-scooters are also less likely to require regular maintenance.
As of 2019, UL2272 certifications are awarded to electric mobility devices, including e-scooters, that have met stringent safety standards (10). By choosing an e-scooter with this certification, you can rest assured that you’re buying a durable, safe product.
Most importantly, make sure you purchase your electric scooter from a recognized retailer, like Apollo Scooters. There are many unscrupulous sellers online whose inventory may not be up to snuff in terms of safety.
Ride Safely With Apollo Scooters
As you can see, riding an electric scooter safely isn’t complicated. In fact, many of the rules we reviewed apply to all vehicles. By taking these simple safety precautions, you can enjoy all that electric scooters have to offer.
If you’re looking for a safe electric scooter that’s built to last, Apollo Scooters has you covered. We safety test each of our scooters extensively so you can ride yours with peace of mind—just don’t forget your helmet!
(1) The Victorian Cyclist. Cycling Accidents and 1890s Moral Panics.
(2) CNN. Injuries prompt CDC investigation into e-scooters.
(3) OneZero. Those E-Scooters Might Not Be as Dangerous as You Think.
(4) Consumer Reports. Electric Scooter Injuries on the Rise as Riders Go Without Helmets.
(5) Henry Ford Health System. If You Ride an E-Scooter, Take Safety Precautions.
(6) ScienceDaily. Head and neck injuries make up nearly 28 percent of all electric scooter accident injuries.
(7) Consumer Affairs. A third of e-scooter riders are injured during their first ride, study finds.
(8) BMJ Journals. Injury patterns and circumstances associated with electric scooter collisions: a scoping review.
(9) Today. Study finds nearly half of serious e-scooter injuries involved alcohol.
(10) 3D Insider. What is the Importance of a UL 2272 Certification?