Traffic study reveals where, when cars hit increasingly popular e-scooters

| Apr 19, 2021 | Motor Vehicle Accidents |

Electric scooter usage is growing as rapidly as e-scooter riders get from Point A to Point B in crowded urban areas.

From the time e-scooters were made publicly available nationally in 2017, rides rose in two short years from zero to 88 million.

Baton Rouge rise

In the early months of the pandemic last year, the micromobility industry gained even more traction. Gotcha, a company operating fleets of shared e-scooters and shared bikes (e-bikes and pedal) in more than 30 cities nationwide, said ridership soared between January and May 2020 by a whopping 1,958 percent in Baton Rouge.

In Syracuse, New York, the spike was even sharper: 2,882 percent. Other cities also experienced big gains in rides, average trip length, etc.

E-scooter riders help to ease urban traffic congestion (and thereby reduce auto emissions), making cities more livable. Of course, the e-scooters also enable riders with a fun way to move around cities more efficiently – unlike motorists in cars, pick-ups and SUVs, their rides don’t end with tedious searches for parking.

Risk of crashes grows, too

Of course, as e-scooters gain in popularity, the risks of collisions with motor vehicles that result in injuries grows as well.

A recent study of micromobility published in the Journal of Safety Research examined e-scooter traffic safety in Nashville, Tennessee.

Research team leader Christopher R. Cherry, a professor of civil and environmental engineering at the University of Tennessee, notes in an article for The Conversation that “safety has been a persistent barrier for cities in encouraging residents to adopt greener, alternative modes of transportation.”

The biggest danger to e-scooter riders is the biggest danger to pedestrians and bicyclists, too: automobiles.

Cherry writes that two-thirds of the 1,024 bicyclist fatalities in 2018 occurred when vehicles struck bike riders.

His research team began by identifying documented e-scooter crashes (52) and bicycle crashes (79).

Where and when

He writes that about 80 percent of both e-scooter and bicycle crashes are in intersections, with about 70 percent taking place in daylight.

He also points out that many scooter-car crashes were at a driveway or crosswalk, with the e-scooter often coming from the vehicle driver’s right.

Bicyclists are more likely to be struck from behind, Cherry writes, or when the driver or bicyclist turns across the other’s roadway path. He points out that “this finding aligns with other studies on bicycle-car crash patterns.”

He writes as well that collisions between vehicles and e-scooters or bicycles “reflect a lack of infrastructure designed for people who choose alternate modes of transportation.”

Fleeing the crash scene

Cherry points out that vehicle crashes with e-scooters and with bicycles are rarely due to intoxicated scooter or bike riders. He writes that drunk drivers didn’t appear to be a significant cause of car-scooter or car-bicycle collisions either, but he did state that of the 104 drivers who were involved in e-scooter or bicycle crashes, 27 drove off.

As we’ve seen many times in Baton Rouge auto accidents, hit-and-run drivers often flee the scene because they’re impaired by alcohol.

They often fear that they will be held financially responsible in personal injury litigation for the pain and suffering they caused.