Intended for healthcare professionals


Scooters cause 9500 injuries in US in 8 months

BMJ 2000; 321 doi: (Published 16 September 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;321:655
  1. Deborah Josefson
  1. San Francisco

    A sharp rise in injuries related to using foot propelled scooters is leading to an increased demand that children using them should wear mandatory protective gear.

    The US Consumer Product Safety Commission has reported that emergency room visits from scooter related mishaps are up 700% since May. In all, 9500 injuries have been reported so far this year, with over 4000 of these reported in August.

    Most scooter accidents have occurred in children aged under 15 years, and fractures account for 30% of the injuries.

    Scooters have recently become enormously popular in the United States, Europe, Hong Kong, and Israel; both children and adults can be seen using them in crowded cities.

    The current models are updated versions of their 1950s predecessors and feature lightweight, foldable metals such as aluminium or titanium, narrow bases, and low friction wheels similar to those used in in-line skates. Most models weigh less than 4.5 kg, cost $80-$120 (£53-£80), and are portable.

    Most injuries are sprains, but fractures and dislocations accounted for almost a third of the reported mishaps. Head injuries also occur. So far, no deaths have been reported.

    Compared with injuries from in-line skating and skateboards, which amounted to 100000 and 60000 respectively in 1999, scooter injuries seem low. However, this may just reflect a catch-up period; in 1992, when in-line skating first became popular, the Consumer Product Safety Commission collected only 10000 reports of in-line skating accidents.

    The commission is recommending that children who use scooters don full safety gear, including helmets, knee pads, and elbow pads. Additionally, they recommend that users adhere to well paved surfaces and avoid street traffic. Children aged under 8 should not be using scooters without supervision, and using them at night should be avoided, said the Consumer Product Safety Commission.

    Ann Brown, the commission's chairwoman, commented: “We're trying to head off some of the kind of injuries that happen with in-line skates and let people know about the safety gear early on.” Some states are proposing that bicycle helmets be worn by children on scooters.

    Meanwhile, legislation to ban motorised versions of the scooters have been drafted in Colorado, and such scooters have been prohibited in New South Wales, Australia.

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    Emergency room visits for scooter injuries are up 700% since May