Amidst a rise in reports that emergency rooms are seeing a spike in visits from people who have seriously messed themselves up while riding electric scooters, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention decided to assess the threat of the increasingly popular vehicles, which are only going to become more prevalent as major companies like Uber, Lyft, Bird, and Lime expand the market.
The CDC began the study after Austin’s Transportation Department and Public Health agencies requested that it investigate the surge in accidents. The institute will release the full results of its study on Thursday at the Epidemic Intelligence Service conference in Atlanta.
CNBC reports that the study shows (unsurprisingly) the greatest risk of riding an e-scooter is hitting the pavement with your face. According to the study, 45 percent of e-scooter accidents result in head injuries.
The clearest take away from the study: wear a damn helmet.
“A high proportion of e-scooter related injuries involved potentially preventable risk factors, such as lack of helmet use, or motor vehicle interaction,” a summary of the study states.
Early on in the study, an Austin Public Health official overseeing the probe shared that less than one percent of e-scooter riders wear helmets.
Lime recently offered to give 250,000 helmets to people who signed its safety pledge. But if you sign it today, it’s unclear if the company is still sending the helmets. Last year Bird started offering free helmets to anyone who had used one of their e-scooters once and requested a helmet through the safety section of their site. But the options seems to no longer be available on that page. Now it simply says “Bird encourages all rides to wear a helmet when riding.” Neither company immediately responded to Gizmodo’s request for comment on the status of these programs.
According to the CDC study, the most common wound after head injuries involved upper limb fracture, followed by lower limb fractures. About 14 rides out of every 100,000 lead to injuries, the study reportedly found.
An Austin Public Health spokesperson told CNBC the organization hopes more agencies will use the study to learn how to respond too e-scooters use in their respective cities.
Suffice to say, the first step for any agency should be figuring out how to get more people to put on headgear before hoping on electric board and rocketing down a street with little to no experience.