By Don Ford

SAN FRANCISCO (KPIX 5) — A new study conducted in Southern California shows that electric scooters are sending riders to the emergency room, many of them with serious injuries.

In San Francisco, Oakland and other Bay Area cities, electric scooters seem to be everywhere as start-up companies Scoot, Skip, Lime and Bird compete for supremacy.

UCLA just released a yearlong study that brings the safety of using electric scooters into question and suggests a simple precaution could make a big difference when riding scooters.

Broken bones, twisted arms and sometimes severe head injuries are sending electric scooter riders to the hospital.  Dr. Christopher Colwell, Chief of Emergency Medicine at SF General Hospital says simply wearing a helmet can save a rider’s life.

“The head worries me, in the sense that those [head injuries] have long-term ramifications. A broken bone we can almost always fix, but these head injuries can be harder to fix, if at all,” said Dr. Colwell.

The numbers paint a clear picture. Of those injured, 27 percent of patients suffered twisted limbs or sprains. Another 32 percent had fractures or broken bones. An additional 40 of those visiting emergency rooms had head injuries.

Dr. Colwell says the use of helmets so deeply ingrained in the bicycle-riding community need to spread to those using electric scooters regularly.

Kate Verson commutes on her electric scooter and says she always uses head gear.

“I’m wearing a helmet! If I break this [points to her head], life is over. I don’t care if I break my hand or leg, but I need my head to work,” said Verson.

Last August, then Governor Jerry Brown signed a bill making helmets optional for adults riding electric scooters. Until there are laws making helmets mandatory for scooter riders, these head injuries will continue to happen.

“I certainly think these are better modes of transportation than others, but let’s not also be fooled into a sense they are completely safe.” explained Colwell.

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