E-Scooter Safety Tips to Avoid Injuries

1/16/2023

E-Scooter Safety Tips to Avoid Injuries

If you use an electric scooter to commute to work, and you ride it on the roads, you have to accept a certain level of risk. However, there are steps you can take to reduce that risk, like buying the right safety equipment and using tried-and-tested scooter safety tips on the roads.

In this article, we will take a look at some of the top electric scooter safety tips to avoid injuries, as well as equipment essentials to help keep you and your loved ones safe when out and about zooming along on two wheels.

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Five essential electric scooter safety tips

Some electric scooter safety tips seem like absolute no-brainers, but we still think they're worth jotting down for a really comprehensive list. If you're new to electric scooters, here are five essential safety tips to get you started on two small wheels:

  1. Don't scoot while under the influence of alcohol or drugs: This is more than just a tip to take on board, for the most part, it's a legal requirement. Alcohol and drugs can severely impair your ability to react to things that occur on the road, making you an unsafe rider.
  2. Don't text or talk on the phone while riding: As the rule above, texting or making a call whilst operating a vehicle is illegal in many states, but not all. It goes without saying though that it takes away from your focus and increases reaction times.
  3. Drive with both hands: Even for the most accomplished scooter riders, one-arm riding is a very dangerous method of driving. Having both hands on the handlebars helps you to control the e-scooter, and better control means a better rider.
  4. Brake gradually to avoid skidding and falling off: When coming to a halt, brake gradually where possible to avoid accidents. Fast braking can increase the risk of skidding out and losing control of the vehicle, so practice starting your braking in advance.
  5. Check your scooter before starting to ride: Regular inspections of your micro-mobility choice should be a part of your riding routine, especially if you are ridesharing. Checking things like the tire pressure and the brakes before heading off can help keep you safe. Making sure that you have enough battery to safely make the journey is just as important, and if in doubt be sure to pack a spare charger.

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Personal protective equipment for electric scooters

When it comes to staying safe on electric scooters, begin with your protective equipment. Sure, preventative riding styles are all well and good, but you want to have the proper safety gear too, because as we know, even if you ride safely, accidents happen and they're not always the rider's fault.

Always wear a helmet

In a lot of states, wearing a helmet isn't just a sensible decision, it's actually a legal requirement for riders of certain ages. For example, Michigan enforces the rule for any riders under the age of 19, whilst Delaware and Connecticut only make it a requirement up to 16 years old.

The states of New York, California, Oklahoma, Massachusetts, North Dakota, South Dakota and Minnesota make it a requirement for all riders under the age of 18 to wear a helmet, while Louisiana is currently the only state to let riders go helmet-free from the age of 16 onwards.

Generally in Europe too, it's legal for most adults to ride an e-scooter without a helmet (though Spain just passed a law making it a legal requirement, and the law is under review in the UK at the time of writing). The fact is that most countries apply the existing cyclist rules to scooter riders, until enough noise is made for further action.

Any seasoned cyclist will tell you that wearing a proper helmet is essential even for short commutes. There were 938 cyclists killed in traffic crashes across the US in 2020, and the riders of bikes are in a very similar situation on the roads to the riders of electric scooters.

Although reporting is incomplete in the sector due to how young it is, the US Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) said that they were aware of 71 fatalities from micro-mobility products from 2017 through 2020, so the best way to avoid injuries is to "always make sure to wear a helmet."

What type of helmet should I wear?

Seeing as a helmet is the most effective way to prevent head injuries, wearing a helmet is a no-brainer, but there are lots of different varieties, so what one should you go for?

A typical bike helmet should protect your skull from the worst of any impact, but it won't protect your face and might not be enough protection on its own in bad accidents.

Most people who choose to wear helmets go for the bare minimum, but if you're looking for something stylish as well as safe, the Unagi helmet meets all CPSC 1203 safety standards and comes in two sizes for optimal fit.

If you are looking for a more comprehensive cover, you could opt for a full-face helmet, but bear in mind that it will be quite heavy and give you a smaller field of vision to work with.

Motorcycle helmets are the most protective type of helmets, but are very expensive and heavy, and the speeds that you're traveling on an e-scooter mean that they're probably overkill.

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Other safety gear

Whilst there's no substitute for wearing a helmet, there is additional safety equipment you should consider for optimal scooter safety on the road ahead.

If you fall off your electric scooter in a collision or otherwise, it's very common to hurt your wrists, knees and elbows as these parts of you are likely to hit the ground first to break your fall. For this reason, elbow and knee straps are popular additions, so long as they can fit comfortably under the rest of your outfit.

You might want to invest in gloves too, which protect your hands from the cold and in turn give you better control over your steering, and also eye protection to prevent flies or other objects from impeding your vision when moving at high speeds.

Use lights

Most electric scooters come with lights already incorporated into the design, like the Unagi Model One which boasts a powerful LED headlight as well as bright rear lights as standard.

Proper lights help in two ways; first of all, they illuminate the roads or bike lanes in front of you to help you avoid objects or potholes in the way, and secondly, they make you visible to other vehicles and any road users you might encounter.

If you want a more comprehensive look at getting the right protective gear for your electric scooter, take a look at our dedicated article: "What you should wear when riding an electric scooter", which goes over the above topic in more detail and has a few extra tips.

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Be aware of the route you're driving on

The majority of Unagi riders use their e-scooter for commuting to a single place of work, or for urban transportation to go to the shops or to a friend's house. With this in mind, if you know where you'll be heading to, familiarize yourself with the route beforehand.

For example, your house is point A, and your office is point B, then choose your route carefully between these two points. Look online for roads that have bicycle lanes (if your local laws allow e-scooters in bike lanes) and try to avoid roads with high-speed limits as much as possible.

Once you have planned out your route, travel it tentatively a few times so you are familiar with it, ideally at a time with less traffic outside of rush hour. Mentally make a note of any risks on the route, such as potholes, intersections, or anywhere you are particularly likely to face oncoming traffic from the opposite direction.

Knowing what to expect and when to expect it will help you become a more confident rider, which in turn will help you be a safer rider.

Check the surfaces that you are traveling on

With a bit of luck, the vast majority of surfaces that you have to ride on will have some level of grip built in like tarmac or hard asphalt.

However, this won't always be the case, so be extra vigilant after it's rained, or if you're scooting somewhere new.

If you are traveling on surfaces with potholes or bumps, go slower to check you have enough ground clearance between the scooter deck and the road to ensure safe riding, especially if you have limited suspension as many electric scooters do.

Stay off the sidewalk

When the roads are particularly busy it can be tempting to want to ride the sidewalk to avoid it, you might even convince yourself that you'll decrease traffic congestion momentarily for other riders.

However, traffic laws and specified lanes are there for a reason, and driving on the sidewalk can cause serious injuries to yourself or to pedestrians, who won't be expecting to encounter a motor-powered vehicle alongside them, especially if you are riding fast.

There are certain rules of the road that everyone should be familiar with, but there are also some things that the laws haven't caught up with that you should take into account to be a safe electric scooter rider, and not riding on the sidewalk is definitely one of them.

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Be aware of the weather

Always check the weather report before scooting, as scooting in adverse weather isn't just bad for the scooter, it can be downright dangerous, and a frequent cause of electric scooter accidents.

Whilst we can't avoid sudden downpours on the roads, we can avoid riding in wet weather for the most part. Wet weather, whether recent or current, is a major cause of accidents for electric scooters and indeed all vehicles.

Whilst most scooters have reliable modern tires that are designed to grip the road under any conditions, slippery surfaces can cause even the most grippy tires to lose traction, so they're best to be avoided whenever possible.

In some cases, slippery conditions have to be endured in order to make a journey, and in this case we advise riding at low speed and carefully to retain as much control over your electric scooter as possible. Wet streets can also mean muddy sidewalks, which can even lead some pedestrians to venture onto the roads, so be extra vigilant on your ride.

Make sure to check your user manual and verified reviews for any indications of limitations that your electric scooter might have when it comes to riding in wet weather conditions.

When in doubt, walk your scooter

When in doubt, get off your scooter and push it. Walk your scooter slowly on the footpath instead of riding it on the road, or use the folding mechanism to carry it with you.

If you become unnerved when riding your electric scooter, you're more likely to make mistakes and that in turn can cause injuries. Walking a portion of your journey on the sidewalk can calm you down and might not even add much time to your journey, and as the old saying goes, it's better to arrive late than never at all.

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Try out your electric scooter before buying

One of the most important factors in keeping you safe is feeling safe. It's all good and well driving around a showroom floor at 5mph, but knowing that you'll feel confident out on the roads is a different story entirely.

At Unagi, we have introduced a rental program for the top-of-the-range Unagi Model One, meaning that you can try it out for a low monthly fee, and if you feel it isn't right for you, you can send it back no questions asked, with no questions asked.

The Unagi All-Access plan will provide you with the latest model delivered to your door anywhere in the continental US with complete insurance, fully serviced by one of our professional in-house technicians. Read more about the Unagi-All Access plan here.


Daniel Foley

Daniel Foley

Unagi Life
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