Kobayashi suspects this negligence has to do with the fact that a lot of scooter riders are jumping on the devices on a whim, as they leave work or leave the bar, without having planned ahead by carrying a helmet. It doesn’t help that individuals over the age of 18 can legally ride without a helmet in California, where this research was conducted.
“While not surprising, it was concerning, particularly in conjunction with the fact that a significant proportion of our patients had head and facial injuries, which could potentially have been prevented, or at least minimized in severity, with the use of a helmet,” she says.
Motivated by both the rapid adoption of electronic scooters and the rising number of patients Kobayashi and her colleagues had observed coming to the hospital with scooter-related injuries, they conducted this study by analyzing patient records from three Level I trauma centers over a 14-month period.
Their data showed that between September 1, 2017, and October 31, 2018, 43 patients were diagnosed with broken extremities — an ankle, shoulder, or arm, for instance. Additionally, 27 patients came in with facial fractures, and 19 were diagnosed with intracranial hemorrhages, injuries that, as Kobayashi pointed out, may not have been as severe if they’d worn helmets — and also maybe if they hadn’t been intoxicated.
“The other thing which was a bit of a surprise was the significant proportion of patients who were intoxicated on alcohol or other illicit substances at the time of their accident,” Kobayashi adds.
Out of the 81 patients screened for it, 48 percent had alcohol in their system. And out of 62 patients whose urine was tested, 32 percent tested positive for THC, and 18 percent tested positive for methamphetamine or amphetamine.