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UCLA study shows health costs of scooter accidents

The rising popularity of electric scooters has led to more accidents, more severe accidents and a fivefold increase in associated health costs.

All those electric scooters zipping around metro areas across the country come at a public health cost. Between 2016 and 2020, hospitalizations for scooter accidents increased dramatically in San Diego and nationwide, according to a new UCLA study.

“Although there are many studies that have looked at scooter injuries recently, our study uniquely shows that there was a nearly fourfold increase in hospitalizations due to scooter-related injuries,” said Nam Yong Cho, a UCLA medical student who was the lead investigator and co-author of the study.

An earlier study led by UC San Diego showed a significant jump in hospital admissions due to motorized scooters from 2017 to 2018. But that only looked at 100 cases.


The UCLA researchers, who published their work in the Journal of the American College of Surgeons, looked at nationwide stats and confirmed the trend. Their study quoted transportation officials who said scooter ridership in the U.S. rose by 130% from 2018 to 2019.

The study also found health care costs have increased by a multiple of five as scooter accidents become more common and severe. Scooter accidents were more likely to harm juveniles and cause broken arms and legs, according to Dr. Zachary Tran, a co-author of the study.

“They had higher rates of long bone injuries that required interventions and also had higher rates of paralysis,” Tran said.

The study also found that while scooter injuries have gone way up, bike injuries are still more numerous and are more likely to be deadly. Tran said this is probably because bikes more often share the road with moving cars.

He added that the challenge of solving the scooter problem should fall to public policy and traffic enforcement.


“Infrastructure is not set up for scooter riders to kind of cohabitate peacefully with drivers and pedestrians as well. I think ultimately policy change is going to be the best way to take care of these patients moving forward to reduce their injury burden,” Tran said.

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