New study from U of A professor warns of dangers of scooter usage

If you've rented an e-scooter downtown or along Whyte Ave, you know it can be an exhilarating experience. Dr. Liran Levin would like to remind us that they can also be very dangerous for both riders and pedestrians!

Jessalyn King - 22 September 2020

Dr. Liran Levin is a professor in periodontology at the School of Dentistry and president-elect of the International Association of Dental Traumatology. He led a study analyzing rates of e-scooter and e-bike-related injuries in Israel from 2014-2019. He says, "We saw that there's a substantial increase in the injuries in general, but also dental injuries specifically."

In that timeline, e-scooters and e-bike usage has been on the rise in Israel. Levin says his team found a 13-fold increase in hospitalized patients due to accidents with these devices. About 10% of the injuries were related to the oral and maxillofacial regions. He says it's important to note that this data is only looking at hospitalizations (or the more severe injuries).

"Interestingly, 60% of the accidents didn't involve other vehicles," Levin says. "It's the rider crashing into pedestrians or into something in the surroundings, or just falling from the bikes." Most of the bystander injuries were youth under 15 or older adults over 60.

Israel is a few years ahead of Edmonton in their e-scooter and e-bike usage, so this study is of interest to use as a reference for policy-makers. Our scooters have been available for rent since 2019. But being rentals makes the question of protection even more difficult to answer. Levin suggests that city-led education around the rules we have in the city and where you can or cannot use those e-scooters and e-bikes is the first step.

For personal usage, he has a few recommendations, but the most important is to pay attention. He says, "One second of distraction or one obstacle in the road that you didn't see and for the rest of your life you'll have to deal with this issue."

  • Use protective measures like helmets and maybe even mouthguards,
  • Know and obey the laws on where to ride,
  • Start slow and test your balance, and
  • Always pay attention.

Levin's next steps are to see how the issue progresses in Alberta and conduct studies in places with stricter enforcement. He says, "Five years from now, it will be interesting to see whether stricter enforcement actually helped to reduce the injuries."

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