Electric scooter rentals come to NJ as injuries rise nationally
A new Rutgers study finds head injuries from motorized, low-speed scooters and electric bikes is on the rise, here in New Jersey and across the country.
The study comes after Hoboken last month became the first municipality in the state to authorize two companies to provide electric scooter rentals on city streets. So far, officials there said, there have been no serious accidents or injuries.
Researchers studying scooter injuries from 100 hospital emergency rooms from 2008 to 2017, there were a recorded 990 head or facial injuries. And they estimated that would be about 32,000 injuries nationwide.
Incidents of scooter and e-bike injuries tripled annually from an estimated 2,325 nationwide in 2008 to an estimated 6,947 in 2017.
Study co-author Boris Paskhover, of Rutgers New Jersey Medical School, says a big part of the problem is riding without a safety helmet.
"In general, you had facial lacerations. There's a similar patient base with closed head injuries and less commonly, major facial fractures," Paskhover said. "Abrasions and lacerations often happen in the face, and then obviously, whenever you're taking a tumble, you hit your head with or without a helmet you still risk closed head injuries."
New Jersey regulates electric scooters in the same way as traditional bikes, only requiring helmets for those under 17. Paskhover says helmets are important.
"If you're going to jump on something that goes 15 miles an hour in traffic, you are risking an injury, because be aware of it. It's not just a toy."
Gov. Phil Murphy recently approved legislation authorizing the use of low-speed scooters and e-bikes on certain roads in the state to curb air pollution and reduce traffic. And in another attempt to cut congestion, Hoboken recently started a scooter rental-ride share program.