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Electric scooters have become a significant cause for concern in major Colorado cities including Denver, Boulder and Colorado Springs. While these scooters offer a convenient last-mile transportation solution, they also bring inherent risks. The gravity of electric scooter accidents reaches catastrophic levels, especially when alcohol becomes a contributing factor. According to medical and transportation studies, incidents involving drunk riding often lead to severe injuries, necessitating surgery, and in some tragic cases, resulting in fatalities.

Drunk Riding and Electric Scooter Accidents: A Disturbing Trend

Recent studies not only emphasize the rising frequency of electric scooter accidents in Colorado but also bring attention to the alarming trend of scooter accidents involving drunk riding. Data from the Denver Police Department and local emergency rooms reveal that e-scooter collisions occur daily in Denver and other major Colorado cities. Moreover, there is a significant surge in accidents related to drunk riding, particularly with rideshare scooters like Lime and Bird.

The increase in DUI/DWI incidents involving e-scooters can be attributed to their role in last-mile transportation in urban centers. Areas with a proliferation of Lime and Bird scooters, often scattered across streets and sidewalks, witness a surge in accidents related to intoxicated riding. Given that bars and restaurants attract a significant demographic for rideshare scooters, a disproportionate number of scooter riders have consumed alcohol. While not everyone who drinks will be too intoxicated to safely operate an electric scooter, even a small amount of alcohol can impair stability and reaction time, critical elements for safely riding low-power motorized scooters.

Electric Scooter Accident Injuries: A Comprehensive Examination

Injuries resulting from electric scooter accidents are often more severe compared to those sustained by passengers and drivers in enclosed vehicles. Even low-speed collisions on a scooter can lead to catastrophic injuries, as riders are directly impacted and frequently fall to the ground. Common electric scooter accident injuries encompass:

  1. Brain injuries and other head injuries
  2. Facial and dental injuries
  3. Road rash
  4. Low back injuries
  5. Neck injuries
  6. Fractures
  7. Joint injuries including knees, shoulders, wrists, elbows, and hips

Fractures, head, and facial injuries are particularly prevalent due to the impact with the ground following a collision or loss of control over the scooter. Denver area emergency departments report daily instances of patients with such injuries resulting from electric scooter accidents. 

Increased Risk Of Injuries Due To Drunk Riding

Intoxicated e-scooter riders face a heightened risk of injury compared to their sober counterparts. While impaired operation increases the overall risk, it also makes specific injuries more likely. A detailed study of emergency department records related to electric scooter incidents involving intoxicated riders yielded noteworthy findings:

  • 55% of scooter collisions resulting in an emergency room visit occurred on the weekend.
  • 39% occurred during the hours of 11 pm and 7 am.
  • 33% of e-scooter injuries were sustained under the influence of alcohol.
  • A face or head impact occurred in 58% of riders (only 1% wore a helmet).
  • 84% of intoxicated riders sustained a face or head injury, compared to 46% for non-intoxicated riders.
  • 29% of intoxicated operators sustained a traumatic brain injury, contrasting with 8% without alcohol impairment.
  • 71% of intoxicated riders sustained soft tissue injuries to the face, in comparison to 28% for non-intoxicated riders.
  • 24% of intoxicated riders sustained maxillofacial fractures, whereas only 6% of sober riders experienced such fractures.
  • Surgical wound treatment was necessary for 42% of riders, with intoxicated riders requiring the majority of surgical wound treatment, primarily to the face.

The study primarily involved self-reported explanations of collisions from patients, revealing that a majority of injuries resulted from collisions with stationary objects rather than moving vehicles or pedestrians. While alcohol is not a necessary factor in collisions with stationary objects, it increases the likelihood, especially when riders are impaired and navigating in the dark.

Although an intoxicated electric scooter rider may be less dangerous to people around them, operating any vehicle when impaired is a dangerous situation for everybody involved. Riding an electric scooter while impaired not only risks your health and the health of other people, it can also result in a DUI or DWI charge. There are better, safer alternatives than taking control of a powered vehicle after drinking.