Are You Operating Your Electric Scooter Safely and Legally?
Electric scooters have increased in popularity during the past five years as an inexpensive, accessible and rapid form of transportation, particularly in urban areas.
With the rise in self-service, scooter rental services, individuals interested in using this popular mode of micromobility should be aware of the risks to their safety and their legal responsibilities on the road.
Injuries on E-Scooters
E-scooter injuries have risen 70% between 2017 and 2020, according to the U.S. Consumer Product Commission, resulting in more than 190,000 visits to emergency rooms across the country.
Of those injured, 58% were hurt while riding an e-scooter on the sidewalk, which is generally prohibited. Interestingly, 40% of e-scooter riders injured were hurt on their first ride.
The injuries sustained by individuals using an e-scooter are often more serious, because many riders are not wearing helmets and are often involved in collisions with motor vehicles or dislodged from their e-scooter at significant speeds.
E-scooters were only recently legalized in Maryland. In 2019, these stand-up scooters were designated as their own class of vehicle, and users were required to follow the same rules as cyclists, according to state law.
This means that e-scooters must be operated on the road, and users must follow all traffic laws, including:
- Stopping at stop signs,
- Obeying traffic signals,
- Riding in the direction of traffic,
- Not wearing headsets or earplugs in both ears,
- Yielding to other vehicles and pedestrians, and
- Wearing a helmet if the rider is younger than 16 years of age.
Unless a municipality permits it, e-scooters cannot be operated on the sidewalk. If an e-scooter rider needs to cross the sidewalk, they must dismount and cross on foot.
The City of Baltimore regulates the speed and operation of e-scooters.
Users may not travel faster than 15 mph.
The City allows users to operate e-scooters on the sidewalk if:
- The posted speed on the adjacent public road is 30 mph or greater, and
- The speed of the e-scooter on the sidewalk does not exceed 6 mph.
Furthermore, Baltimore prohibits riders from carrying a package, bundle or other item that prevents the user from keeping both hands on the handlebars.
Speed Safety Measures
The rise in injuries to those operating e-scooters has prompted lawmakers to enact safety measures to help reduce injuries and fatalities. Among them are:
- Filling potholes and evening out pavements and driveway lips, which cause two-thirds of reported injuries;
- Expanding designated bike lanes to include e-scooters; and
- Capping speeds for e-scooters by enacting geofencing that automatically limits riders’ speed to 8 mph in pedestrian-rich areas, such as hospitals, schools and shopping areas.
These measures seek to make the roads safe for everyone.
Injured While Operating an Electric Scooter
If you are injured while operating an e-scooter due to the carelessness of the operator of a motor vehicle or due to the e-scooter malfunctioning, you likely have a number of questions:
- Does automobile insurance apply?
- Who’s going to pay for my medical bills and lost time from work?
- Am I responsible for the damage done to the e-scooter?
- Does it matter if I was not wearing a helmet?
- Does it matter if the accident took place on the road or sidewalk?
For answers to these questions and many more, please call for an appointment to speak with one of our knowledgeable staff members at Bob Katz Law.