Dallas is a rapidly growing city that recognizes the importance of an affordable and reliable transit system. In 2018, electric scooters descended upon various Texas cities with a staggering fleet. These scooters posed a solution for short ‘last mile’ trips that are too far to walk, but too short to drive. However, convenience comes with a price. Hospitals all over the city have reported incidences involving electric scooters which result in accidents, injuries, and in the worst case, death.
Scooters cost $1 to start and accrue 15 cents per minute during rides. On a full charge, scooters can travel up to 20 miles. The scooters are dockless, meaning that they can be left anywhere once you arrive to your destination. All that is needed to ride is a driver’s license and a smartphone. These scooters were created as an eco-friendly alternative means of transportation and were meant to encourage people to commute and travel without having to use a car, which could further decrease carbon emissions in the city.
Companies such as Lyft and Uber (Jump) are focused on making affordable transportation options. Lyft has invested $1 million alongside local nonprofits to bring transportation equity to low-income neighborhoods. When it launched, it was accompanied by a feel-good initiative called the “Community Pass”, which is a low-income, discount program that costs $5 per month and includes unlimited 30-minute rides for people who qualify for federal public aid.
Scooter Coverage Map
Scooter Companies in Dallas
Dangers of Electric Scooters
Despite the good intentions behind the scooters, they have also been the center of controversy. Rental scooter drivers are forced to share the road with other motor vehicles such as trucks and buses. Riders are not required to wear helmets, although scooters can travel up to 15 mph. Popular scooter companies such as Lime and Bird have stated that scooters should be ridden in bike lanes or on streets, but not on sidewalks where pedestrians walk.
Electric scooters also pose a risk to pedestrians. After downloading the app, scooter companies run users through a series of steps on how to ride and rent the scooter. The users must go through an in-app tutorial that includes helmet safety. They stress that the scooters cannot be ridden on the sidewalks and should only be used in bike lanes. However, bike lanes are not always available and busy roads are not always safe for riders. In a collision on a sidewalk, a pedestrian is at a higher risk against these high-speed motorized vehicles. While able-bodied people are usually able to maneuver, these devices pose a danger to the elderly and visually impaired pedestrians.
How Can I Ride A Scooter?
All scooter companies require that riders be:
– 18 years or older
– Valid Driver’s license
– Consent to safety agreements to register through smartphone apps
Dallas Scooter Controversy
While a scooter can be started with a simple download of an app, it is important to consider the dangers that they pose. With scooters being a fresh and new concept, many scooter riders often don’t know right-of-way laws and are inexperienced sharing the roadway with motor vehicles. Scooters, like bikes and motorcycles, provide no frame of protection for its riders, they are hard to see for other drivers and unstable. Texas streets are filled with potholes and obstacles that could easily throw a rider off the street.
According to data gathered by Baylor Scott & White, electric scooter-related injuries have generated over $1 million in hospital costs since their arrival last year. WFAA concluded that in November alone there were up to 480 scooter-related crashes.
– 57% of the injuries occurred between 7 PM and 6 AM
– 33% of riders were under the influence of alcohol
– 58% had injuries to their extremities
– 43% had facial injuries
– 35% had brain injuries
– None of these riders were wearing helmets
The WFAA also found that approximately 1 to 3 scooter accidents happen a month. E-scooters have generated more than $1.4 million in cost alone to the medical center in downtown. Of that cost, $491,000 have been uninsured trauma.
Who Can I Sue If I Have Been Hurt on An Electric Scooter?
Dallas has sovereign immunity, meaning that the government cannot be sued without its consent. This means that if you were injured while riding a scooter on a poorly maintained street, the driver cannot sue. However, if your accident were to happen in a construction zone and there was not adequate signage, you may have a case. Scooter riders who are injured due to their own negligence, do not have any coverage at all as auto insurance policies do not typically cover accidents on scooters if you are the at-fault party.
In the city of Dallas, scooter and bike-sharing companies such as Lime and Bird are legally required to carry at least $500,000 per accident in liability coverage. Though, you have only entitled compensation if you can prove that the accident was caused by the negligence of the company in providing its services or if it was caused by a scooter malfunction
Scooter companies protect themselves from liability by making riders sign an arbitration agreement, which gives up rider’s rights to go to court and be heard by a jury or judge, and also waives the rights to join a class-action lawsuit. As long as scooter companies are warning riders to wear helmets and providing well-maintained scooters, proving a case may be difficult. Ultimately, you are responsible for your own actions just as you are when you rent a car.
To find out more information on scooter sharing, please check out:
Dallas Department of Transportation
How Can I Be Safe While Riding an Electric Scooter?
Safety first! Electric scooter riders must always follow traffic laws and be mindful of road obstructions. Each scooter comes with brakes to slow down/stop and companies encourage users to do a pre-ride safety check and to wear helmets. Companies such as “Jump” by Uber offer free helmets that are distributed at:
Uber Green Light Hub
1801 N. Lamar Street
#130 Landmark Center
Dallas, TX, 75202
Monday, Wednesday, Friday from 10 AM -5 PM
As electric scooter rental grows, we are seeing many more personal injury accidents on the streets. The potential for serious injury is higher in an electric scooter due to the lack of bodily protection it provides. If you or a loved one are involved in an accident due to the negligence of another party, you should consider hiring a personal injury attorney. Contact one of our experienced attorneys at Thompson Law. We offer clients a free case evaluation and will help you get the proper medical treatment and compensation for your suffering. Call us 24/7 at 844-308-8180.