A new year-long study (pdf) released today by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) finds there were an estimated 10,000 emergency room injuries involving powered scooters from July 2003 through June 2004, the first year for which there is reliable data.
According to the CPSC staff report, less than half of all victims were wearing helmets at the time of the incident, and few were wearing other safety gear such as knee and elbow pads. Approximately two-thirds of all injuries occurred in children under 15 years old.
The study was undertaken to get a more accurate picture of injuries as powered scooters have risen in popularity.
CPSC Chairman Hal Stratton said that because 7 out of 10 incidents were behavior or environment-related, following local laws and CPSC safety guidelines can play a strong role in protecting children.
"The good news," Chairman Stratton said, "is that parents can help significantly reduce deaths and injuries to children by taking simple safety precautions such as making sure their kids wear helmets, ride only on smooth surfaces and avoid riding at night."
Other findings by CPSC staff study include:
- 71 percent of the incidents were related to the operator (36%), the environment (35%) or a combination of the two. Incidents include operators who lost control of the scooter; braked too quickly; accelerated unexpectedly; fell off the scooter; or had two people riding on the scooter; hit a curb, bump or pothole; or rode over gravel.
- About one in five incidents was blamed on scooter problems – including brake failure, loose handlebars, the accelerator sticking and cuts on sharp edges of the scooter.
- Almost half of the injuries suffered were contusions, abrasions, lacerations or hematomas. More than a quarter of the injuries were fractures.
CPSC has reports of 49 deaths attributed to powered scooters from October 1998 through November 2004. Twenty nine of the deaths were the result of an accident with a motor vehicle.
These scooters can be powered by either electric or gasoline engines. Both types of scooters usually have two wheels, a platform to stand on and handlebars. The scooters sometimes have detachable seats.
CPSC recommends the following safety guidelines to help prevent scooter deaths and injuries:
- Wear a bike helmet, along with knee and elbow pads.
- Ride on smooth surfaces. Avoid dirt, sand, gravel and water, which can cause falls.
- Do not ride scooters at night.
- CPSC recommends that children 12 and under not ride fast-moving motorized scooters.
Owners of motorized scooters should check with local authorities for riding guidelines and restrictions. Many local jurisdictions prohibit the use of powered scooters on roadways and sidewalks.
CPSC today also announced three powered scooter-related recalls. Hazards with these scooters include tire ruptures, detaching handlebars and overheating battery chargers.
The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is charged with protecting the public from unreasonable risks of injury or death associated with the use of the thousands of consumer products under the agency's jurisdiction. Deaths, injuries and property damage from consumer product incidents cost the nation more than $900 billion annually. CPSC is committed to protecting consumers and families from products that pose a fire, electrical, chemical or mechanical hazard. CPSC's work to ensure the safety of consumer products - such as toys, cribs, power tools, cigarette lighters and household chemicals - contributed to a decline in the rate of deaths and injuries associated with consumer products over the past 30 years.
Federal law bars any person from selling products subject to a publicly-announced voluntary recall by a manufacturer or a mandatory recall ordered by the Commission.
To report a dangerous product or a product-related injury go online to www.SaferProducts.gov or call CPSC's Hotline at (800) 638-2772 or teletypewriter at (301) 595-7054 for the hearing impaired. Consumers can obtain news release and recall information at www.cpsc.gov, on Twitter @OnSafety or by subscribing to CPSC's free e-mail newsletters.