Electric Scooter Accidents In Scottsdale and Surrounding Areas Are Causing Injuries and Other Concerns
Almost everyone in the Phoenix Metro Area has seen the booming new industry that is electric scooter a.k.a. e-scooters. These motorized devices allow users to ride down streets and sidewalks for only a small service charge. The scooters are left outside and are activated by using a smart phone. Once a rider has finished using an e-scooter he or she typically can leave the device on the side of the road. The use of electric scooters is popular among teenagers, college students and tourists. It is a cheap, easy way to travel short distances. Many cities around the country are welcoming the use of electric scooters as they have also been shown to decrease traffic congestion.
Unsurprisingly, the use of motorized scooters has created major concerns for members of the community. One of the biggest concerns regarding electric scooters is the sheer number of devices on the streets. Areas such as Tempe, Old Town Scottsdale, and downtown Phoenix have hundreds of motorized scooters on the streets and sidewalks ready for use. People riding e-scooters often operate them on the roadway, sidewalk and shoulder of the road. The scooters are silent and can reach speeds approaching 20 miles per hour. Because the use of electric scooters is more popular in dense urban areas, the probability of scooter accidents is extremely high. Individuals driving down the road or even walking down the sidewalk must be aware of people operating e-Scooters.
Electric Scooter Crashes and Injuries Are On The Rise In The West Including Arizona
As the popularity of electric scooters rises, so do the number of crashes and serious injuries. A study conducted by Dr. Benjamin Breyer of San Francisco General Hospital has shown that the number of electric scooter related injuries and hospitalizations skyrocketed 365% from 2014 to 2018. Of those reported hospitalizations, the most common injuries were bone fractures.
…the number of electric scooter related injuries and hospitalizations skyrocketed 365% from 2014 to 2018.
The cause of this increase in scooter injuries is disputed. Some researchers believe that the cause of electric scooter injury is due to the lack of safety regulations and enforcement. Unlike operating a car, operating an e-scooter does not require a valid driver’s license or automobile insurance in the state of Arizona. This can be problematic for several reasons. The operating experience of the driver may not be sufficient to operate the scooter safely. Because e-scooters can be operated on the public roads, riders must be cognizant of other drivers and the rules of the road. If the operator of an e-scooter does not understand basic traffic-safety laws then an accident with another vehicle is likely to occur.
Drugs and alcohol may also be to blame for the increase in e-scooter accidents. A study conducted by Healthline reported that nearly 48% of people admitted to major trauma centers due to a scooter accident were above the legal blood alcohol content limit and that 52% of individuals tested positive for drug use. According to statistics from the Center for Disease Control this is much higher in comparison to accidents involving automobiles which only involve alcohol 16% of the time.
Abandoned E-Scooters Can Create a Hazard Leading to Car Crashes, Bicycles Crashes and Pedestrian Injuries
Additionally, the ability to leave the e-scooters anywhere creates another risk to the public. Although it is convenient, the abandonment of motorized scooters can create an obstruction on the road and sidewalk. Likewise, scooters are often damaged by other people which can result in ineffective equipment and safety features for unsuspecting riders. Not only is this dangerous for others riding e-scooters, but it also creates a danger for persons walking on sidewalks and driving on the road. Typically, the electric scooter companies pay a person or company to collect and inspect the scooters at the end of the day and to place them in a safe location. However, throughout the day, riders tend to leave the scooters wherever they desire.
Insurance Coverage Is Not Required in Arizona to Operate an E-Scooter
Insurance coverage is also a major issue concerning e-scooters. In the unfortunate event that an accident does occur, the rider of the scooter may not have liability insurance to cover your injuries. Further, even if the rider does have valid automobile insurance, most insurance policies do not extend to cover injuries that result from the operation of electric scooters. This creates a very difficult situation when an injured person is trying to recover money for medical expenses, pain, suffering and property damage. Trying to recover money from an individual may or may not be a viable option depending on the assets of the person at fault. Therefore, it is always best to consult an attorney to evaluate your potential claim and to determine the best strategy for recovery.
What Arizona Laws Apply to E-Scooters
Arizona Revised Statute § 28-101 defines two types of standup electric scooters. The first is smaller, weigh less than 30 pounds, less powerful and only capable of going up to ten miles per hours. These are the types of electric scooters that children may have and that can typically be seen in residential neighborhoods.
The second type of scooter is larger, weighs up to 70 pounds and can reach speeds up to 20 miles per hour. These are the e-scooters that are typically rented and owned by scooter rideshare companies through app-based software. These are the scooters that are typically seen throughout Scottsdale, Tempe and Phoenix. The manufacturers of these e-scooters include Spin, Bird, Jump, Lime, Lyft and Razor.
A.R.S. § 28-101 specifically sets forth the definitions for these stand-up electric scooters as follows:
- “Electric miniature scooter”:
(a) Weighs less than thirty pounds.
(b) Has two or three wheels.
(c) Has handlebars.
(d) Has a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding.
(e) Is powered by an electric motor or human power, or both.
(f) Has a maximum speed that does not exceed ten miles per hour, with or without human propulsion, on a paved level surface.
- “Electric standup scooter”:
(a) Means a device that:
(i) Weighs less than seventy-five pounds.
(ii) Has two or three wheels.
(iii) Has handlebars.
(iv) Has a floorboard on which a person may stand while riding.
(v) Is powered by an electric motor or human power, or both.
(vi) Has a maximum speed that does not exceed twenty miles per hour, with or without human propulsion, on a paved level surface.
(b) Does not include an electric miniature scooter.
A.R.S. § 28-101 defines vehicle as “a device in, or by which a person or property is or may be transported or drawn on a public highway” and does not include “electric bicycles, electric miniature scooters, electric standup scooters and devices moved by human power.” As such, electric scooters would appear to have to follow the same laws that apply to bicycles under Arizona law.
City of Phoenix Electric Scooter Pilot Program
The City of Phoenix City Council unanimously approved a pilot program to determine if e-scooters were a good thing and right for the City. The City of Phoenix’s rules for the pilot program included the following:
- Riders must be over the age of 18 and possess a valid driver’s license.
- All operators are required to obey all traffic laws including D.U.I.
- Vendors are not allowed to provide scooters that can exceed 15 miles per hour.
- Operators are required to park the scooters in designated parking areas.
- No riding on sidewalks is permitted.
- Riding scooters is only allowed in certain approved areas of the City.
The pilot program began in September 2019 and was scheduled for six months. However, it was extended through October 2020. In March 2021, the City Council approved the pilot program through March 2022. As such, it appears that electric scooters are here to stay in Phoenix, Arizona through at least 2022. Electric scooters may be here forever should the Phoenix City Council conclude that the pilot program was successful.
City of Scottsdale Electric Scooter Laws, Rules and Regulations
The City of Scottsdale passed an ordinance to address electric standup scooter use in the City of Scottsdale. Specifically, the city of Scottsdale enacted Ordinance 4372. This ordinance specifically addresses stand up electric mini scooters and defines them as “self-propelled device which has an electric motor, a deck on which a person may ride, at least two tandem wheels in contact with the ground, handles bars, brakes and does not exceed 20 miles per hours and which is not otherwise defined in Arizona Revised Statutes Title 28, as amended, as a motor vehicle, motorcycle or motor-driven cycle.”
Most importantly, the Ordinance extends the application of all traffic laws to operators of electric scooters under section 17-80. This gives scooter operators the same rights as the drivers of a vehicle under Arizona law and makes them subject to the same duties. This means a scooter operator must follow all traffic laws and rules of the road. This requires a scooter operator to follow and obey all “official traffic-control signals, signs and other control devices applicable to vehicles, unless otherwise direct by a peace officer” or other person vested with authority.
This means a scooter operator must follow all traffic laws and rules of the road.
The Ordinance also allows the operator of an electric standup scooter to operate the scooter on a sidewalk or multi-use recreational path. However, it requires the operator of the scooter to yield the right of way to pedestrians using the sidewalk. It also requires operators to yield the right of way to vehicles while crossing a driveway or intersection. The Ordinance requires the operator of an e-scooter to not operate a scooter on a sidewalk, multi-use path or roadway at a speed that is greater than is reasonable and prudent under the circumstances. Finally, the Ordinance prohibits the use of e-scooters on any roadway with a posted speed limit of 40 miles per hour or greater.
More information regarding the rules and regulations for e-scooters in the City of Scottsdale can be found here.
Contact A Scottsdale Personal Injury Attorney Today If You Were Injured In An Electric Scooter Related Crash or Accident
If you or a loved one suffered a serious injury as the result of an electric scooter related crash, contact Scottsdale Injury Lawyers today. An experienced Scottsdale personal injury attorney is available now to discuss your case. A consultation is free. There is no retainer to pay or any up-front costs or fees. We only earn a fee if we recover money for you.
About the author: The content on this page was provided by Scottsdale personal injury attorney and civil rights lawyer Tony Piccuta. Piccuta graduated with honors from Indiana University-Maurer School of Law in Bloomington, Indiana (Ranked Top 35 US News & World Report 2018). Piccuta took and passed the State bars of Arizona, California, Illinois and Nevada (all on the first try). He actively practices throughout Arizona and California. He is a trial attorney that regularly handles serious personal injury cases and civil rights lawsuits. He has obtained six and seven figure verdicts in both state and federal court. He has been recognized by Super Lawyers for six years straight. He is a member of the Arizona Association of Justice, Maricopa County Bar Association, Scottsdale Bar Association, American Association for Justice, National Police Accountability Project and Consumer Attorneys of California, among other organizations.
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