Electric Scooter Safety Guide - Tips & Precautions to Keep You Safe
- Read Time: 7 min
Let's address the elephant in the room right of the bat.
Electric scooters are safe, period. As a vehicle. They are safe.
The average user though... probably not as much.
With the increasing popularity of electric scooters, and in particular share scooters, there were some accidents that pointed at the electric scooter as a dangerous vehicle. Not much was being said about the rider.
There is no vehicle that is safe in the hands of a thoughtless and reckless pilot. Not even a bicycle.
Where and how your ride, at what speeds as well as the safety equipment (or lack thereof), is what makes things dangerous.
Who on earth would go skiing or snowboarding without a helmet these days? Why would you ride an electric scooter without one?
Treat the electric scooter as well as yourself and other road users with respect and it will be as safe as any other vehicle.
Learning how to ride properly, and keeping your balance under braking is key to controlling your e scooter.
The electric scooter is a phenomenal environmentally friendly economical transport tool. It is here to stay so let's get used to it and learn how to ride safely.
Are electric scooters safe?
Accidents happen, and as such, are also subject to data collection with various countries' departments of transport as well as other institutions.
One study done by Consumer Reports shows that the most common accidents are inexperienced riders not wearing helmets which amounted to 33% of the head injuries. Of those surveyed, 83% were accidents not caused by a collision but falls. This means that rider error and lack of paying attention most likely is the main reason for accidents.
The main problem, or challenge, with e scooter users is the attitude of the average rider. It seems people think there is no need to be wary and they treat it like a toy. Hop on and get going.
We never let our kids learn to ride a bike that way. We teach them how to balance, tell them to always wear a helmet, look out for wet patches, don't brake while turning on dirt or gravel with your front wheel, and so on.
The electric scooter needs as much attention if not more. Smaller wheels are not like riding a bike. They might catch you out on a pothole. In the wet, you will have a longer braking distance and it is easier to get into a slide than on a bike f.e.
Stay focused is probably the best tip apart from always wearing a helmet. Pedestrians and other traffic participants might not hear or see you as well as you think.
Inspect the scooter before your ride
Most people probably hop on and just get going. Don't be like most people. Be smarter. A short pre-ride check to avoid accidents is easy to do. Especially important with share scooters.
A throttle and brake check would be first on that list. Make sure they operate properly. Brakes need to be in good shape.
Check the tires for damage, and the tire pressure if they are air-filled.
Battery level to make sure you reach your destination.
If you plan on riding in the dark, make sure the lights are operational.
Wear a helmet
As far as non-negotiable safety features go, the helmet is king. Always wear a helmet. An don't think, "it's just a short trip, I can skip the helmet for that". This is the one that is going to get you. Sooner or later you will fall. It will happen. Will you be prepared? Are you a safety-conscious person?
Fighter pilots do crazy stuff in crazy environments and safety, is be the be-all and end-all for them. Preflight check for sure. They wouldn't leave anything to chance. The same principle should apply if you ride motorcycles, and/or electric scooters.
In addition, you should always wear gloves and elbow pads to protect yourself. If you have your own daily commuter scooter, this is a no-brainer.
Ride Solo (Never ride tandem)
The electric scooter is designed as a one-person vehicle. It might seem convenient to bring a friend along but the stability, braking, and overall way of riding are not for two people on a scooter. Don't ride in tandem. If you do, you will have to stand with your feet parallel which is another nono on an electric scooter. You have less balance this way. Your feet should be in a skateboard/snowboard position for maximum scooter safety regarding balance.
Don’t use your phone while driving
Never ever use your phone while riding. It is scary to steer an electric scooter with one hand as it is, and not to be recommended. You need to stay focused and not perform distracted scootering. The use of phones in traffic and other traffic participants is probably a huge reason for a lot of accidents. You need to look out for other vehicles and traffic in general.
Slow down before looking back or turning.
Slow down before looking back or turning.Turning in traffic is always risky. Especially left turns, in the part of the world where there is right-hand traffic. The added problem on an electric scooter is the same as on a bike. Most scooters don't have mirrors so you need to look over your shoulder. This is a very risky move and is the reason for many crashes. Even amongst pro bikers. It is easy to lose your trajectory and start veering off in the direction of where you are looking.
This is where you will go off-road or crash with oncoming traffic. Even on a relatively slow share scooter, it is easy to underestimate the speed at which you are traveling and before you know it. Boom. Slow down properly before turning and if needed, signal. If your scooter doesn't have a turn signal, you can point with your arm, but letting go of the handlebars is scary so you might want to poke your leg or foot out instead. Indicating where you are going.
Keep your eyes on the road
Reading the surface and road conditions is one of the most important things as far as e scooter safety tips go. The smaller wheels need a rider who is vigilant. Look out for potholes or other imperfections in the road that can catch the unwary out. One of the most important things to keep in mind is to keep your eyes a good distance in front of you and not only a couple of feet. Might be too late otherwise.
Avoid riding in bad weather conditions
The electric scooter is not really an ideal wet weather companion. Even if it has a good IP rating. If you find yourself riding in the rain, be aware of the lower grip, slick patches, white lines and avoid fast speeds.
Avoid riding in pedestrian areas
Plan ahead and try to know which route you will choose. Avoid pedestrian areas as much as you can. Zipping past people walking, scaring the bejesus out of them zig-zagging in stealth mode, is an accident waiting to happen. Make sure you have a bell or a horn to let people know you are around them.
Know your local laws. You might not be allowed to ride in the park where you live.
Follow regular road safety
Use common sense and follow the traffic laws as you would driving a car. Never ever ride drunk or in other ways intoxicated. There are statistics showing that electric scooter accidents are more frequent at the hours of the day when people like to hit the bars.
Try to avoid main roads with heavy traffic.
Maintain your electric scooter regularly
Keeping your electric scooter in good condition is easy and does not require much effort. Check and if needed, retighten screws and bolts regularly. There is quite a lot of vibration going through an e-scooters chassis so loosening of screws is not uncommon. You don't want that to happen to your brake lever or foldable handlebars for instance.
There is no reason why riding an e scooter should be dangerous, yet it can be. But only because users don't respect them. They seem to think it is merely an alternative to a bicycle.
But where a bike is much safer due to lower speeds, bigger wheels and, easier to steer with one hand, the e scooter is faster, has smaller wheels, and needs two hands on the handlebars at all times. The shifting of your body is also more important than on a bike. Leaning into corners and leaning back under heavy braking is a technique that takes some practice to perfect.
However, the most important electric scooter safety tips will always be the helmet, and as much other body protection as you want to protect. Stay focused and paying attention will help avoid accidents.