E-Scooter on Your Kids' Holiday Gift List? Experts Have Warnings, Safety Tips

FRIDAY, Dec. 8, 2023 (HealthDay News) -- An electric scooter might be on your kid’s wish list for Christmas, but pediatricians say parents should think twice before buying one.

Even taking a child on a ride with an e-scooter is a dicey proposition, said Dr. Ashley Ebersole, a pediatrician with Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

“If you fall off an e-scooter, which can travel up to 15 and 20 miles per hour, you are going to get hurt,” said Ebersole, a spokeswoman for the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). “Emergency department visits have spiked. While we most often see cuts, fractures and head injuries, some of these injuries are severe.”

Injuries related to e-scooter use rose 22% in 2022 from the year before, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) reported in October. An estimated 51,700 people were injured in e-scooter crashes that year.

About 16% of ER visits for e-scooter wrecks between 2017 and 2022 involved kids ages 5 to 14 and 25% involved people ages 15 to 24, the CPSC says. That’s more than those age groups’ share of the overall population, which is 12% and 13% respectively.

The AAP recommends that children under 16 who are too young to have a driver’s license not be allowed to operate or ride a motorized or electric scooter. Many cities restrict e-scooter use to those 16 and older, and children could face a traffic ticket for breaking the rules.

Anyone riding an e-scooter should also wear the appropriate safety gear, including a helmet, closed-toe shoes, elbow and knee pads, and reflective gear when riding at night, the AAP says. The risk of injury from a scooter wreck is as much if not more than the risk posed by a bicycle crash.

Other safety tips include:

  • Start slow, as the accelerator and braking tabs on the handles can be touchy on some scooters.

  • No texting and riding – use both hands to operate the scooter.

  • Don’t wear earbuds, as you need your hearing to be fully aware of your surroundings.

  • Use bike lanes when available, and when not available, stay on the right side of the road.

  • Don’t ride e-scooters on sidewalks or park walking paths, as this puts pedestrians at risk.

  • Don’t operate an e-scooter under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

  • Don’t take e-scooters onto a highway, and be aware when riding one on a busy street.

The AAP warns that e-scooters are so tempting a kid might sign up on a rental app to use one without their parent’s consent. Make sure children know your rules and expectations, and check their phone if you have concerns.

More than a third of the e-scooter injuries that occurred in 2022 happened with a rented scooter, the CPSC noted.

“I encourage families to talk with their college-aged children about the dangers of operating e-scooters while texting, listening to music or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Ebersole said in an AAP news release. “And if an e-scooter is on your holiday gift list, make sure that it comes with a helmet and a conversation about safety.”

More information

The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission has more about e-scooter injuries.

SOURCE: American Academy of Pediatrics, news release, Dec. 5, 2023

What This Means for You:

Parents should think twice before gifting an electric or motorized scooter to one of their kids, and make sure the child follows the safety rules if they do.

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