How Dangerous are Electric Scooters?

April 30, 2024 College, Criminal Defense

Over the last several years, electric scooters have made their way into the state of Florida with a substantial impact. Also referred to as e-scooters, the alternative transportation option first became legal in the state of Florida in June 2019 with the signing of HB 453 titled, “Micromobility Devices.”

Florida considers micromobility devices as motorized transportation device that are available to use through a phone or online app for “point to point trips” with a speed no greater than 20 miles per hour. While users do not need a valid license to use an e-scooter, they must agree to the terms and conditions set out by the e-scooter company.

An issue that’s been raised regarding e-scooters is the increase in dangerous accidents. There have already been multiple cities and municipalities to ban the use of micromobility devices due to the uptick in collisions involving e-scooter riders. While inexperience remains one issue, riders who do not wear helmets, do not stay within the allotted zone for e-scooters, or attempting to operate them while under the influence of drugs and alcohol have all lead to deadly outcomes.

Outside of the e-scooter rider, another danger is posed by individuals operating motor vehicles on the road. Distracted drivers, drivers who are under the influence of alcohol or drugs or are otherwise negligent in the operation of their vehicle can also lead to deadly collisions with micromobility devices.

Two fatal e-scooter collisions recently occurred within weeks of each other in South Florida, highlighting the need to regulate these growing new technological devices. This page will provide data on e-scooter injuries and fatalities, two recent example cases from South Florida, and how cities in the Sunshine State are struggling to create the best rules and regulations for e-scooters.

Data on E-Scooter Injuries and Fatalities

The following provides data from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on micromobility product-related deaths, injuries, and hazard patterns between 2017 – 2022:

  • From 2017-2022, there were an estimated total of 360,800 emergency department (ED) visits “micromobility products”;
  • From 2017-2022, there were an estimated total of 169,300 ED visits associated with e-scooters;
  • Rental e-scooters accounted for 37% of e-scooter-related ED visits;
  • 63% of e-scooter injuries occurred on paved roads;
  • 23% of injured victims reported the cause of the accident was due to lack of visibility;
  • 11% of e-scooter victims reported the cause of accident was caused by distraction (phone use, music, etc.);
  • 32% of e-scooter victims reported the cause of accident was caused by holding something;
  • 13% of e-scooter riders said they were wearing a helmet;
  • There were 111 reported fatalities from e-scooter accidents from 2017-2022; and
  • The top hazards associated with e-scooter fatalities were motor vehicle collisions and control issues.

Additionally, a study focused on emergency rooms at Tampa General Hospital found that the greatest number of scooter accidents involved people between the ages of 21-30.

Recent Cases Involving E-Scooter Fatality

The following information is focused on two fatal collisions involving an e-scooter that took place within weeks of each other in South Florida:

  • March 2024 A senior at the University of Miami (UM) was fatally struck by a vehicle while on his way to the school’s campus on March 5, 2024. According to a local report, Daneil Bishop had also been a student at Marjory Stoneman Douglas and survived the 2018 Parkland Massacre. While few details have been revealed about the fatal crash, the Chief Police with Coral Gables Police Department told the city commission that an investigation is underway and “charges are pending.”
  • March 2024 A student at Cooper City High School was taking an electric scooter to school on the morning of March 18, 2024, when they were hit by a motor vehicle. The victim, 16-year-old Anthony Malec, was riding a stand-up e-scooter outside of the crosswalk when he was struck by a 2022 Tesla Model X. The driver, 40-year-old Fritznie Jarbeth, was not indicated to have been speeding or impaired at the time of the collision. The teen was transported to a hospital while in “extreme critical condition” but died the following day. Jarbeth remained at the scene of the collision, and it’s unclear if any charges will be pressed.

South Florida Struggling to Determine Best E-Scooter Laws

Although e-scooters have only been around in Florida since 2019, it has already been banned in certain areas. The first city was Hollywood, Florida, who banned all types of scooters “on any city street, road-way, sidewalk, or on any other private property where the public has the right to travel by motor vehicle within the city.”

In 2022, Miami revoked the permits from several e-scooter companies, which resulted in a decrease in accident injuries. Chief Greg May in Fort Lauderdale claimed that revoking the ordinance to allow rideshare e-scooters had such a dramatic drop in accidents that they’ve stopped tracking them post 2022.

“When all those companies took scooters out, we just stopped having incidents,” May said. “Now a kid might have a scooter and get in an on it, we just treat it as any other call.”

Just last month, Key Biscayne banned e-scooters. Miami-Dade County is also looking to consider speed limits for e-scooters and e-bikes. What has been confusing about e-scooters is the legal situation surrounding it in Florida.

Under Florida Statute Section 316.2128(1), a person operating an e-scooter or micromobility device has “all of the rights and duties applicable to the rider of a bicycle under s. 316.2065, except the duties imposed by s. 316.2065(2), (3)(b), and (3)(c), which by their nature do not apply. However, this section may not be construed to prevent a local government, through the exercise of its powers under s. 316.008, from adopting an ordinance governing the operation of micromobility devices and motorized scooters on streets, highways, sidewalks, and sidewalk areas under the local government’s jurisdiction.”

Since most of the regulations for e-scooters are left to local governments, it has become difficult to decide on the right rules that won’t result in more injuries and death.

“You basically have two options,” said attorney Todd Falzone. “One is put them on sidewalks. Then you have the risk of the scooters running over people on the sidewalk. The other option is you put them on the street, and then you have the problem of people running over scooter operators with their cars.”

In Cooper City where Malec was fatally struck by a vehicle, spokesperson Michael Cobelo stated in an email that the city “does not have regulations specific to an electric scooter’s speed or where and how it can be utilized.”

Criminal Penalties Involving E-Scooters

Currently, a person who violates the terms set out in HB 453 faces a noncriminal traffic infraction that is punishable as a moving violation under Ch. 318.

Important: Pumphrey Law represents individuals who have been charged with a criminal offense(s) in the Florida Panhandle. If you were involved in a collision involving an e-scooter that resulted in injuries, you could be accused of committing any of the following offenses:

Keep in mind that getting into a motor vehicle accident and not remaining at the accident site to provide your information and render aid if needed can result in being charged with leaving the scene of an accident.  

Contact Pumphrey Law Firm for Criminal Defense

If you or someone you love has been charged with a crime due to a collision with an e-scooter, you should prioritize seeking out the legal guidance of a Tallahassee criminal defense lawyer. Depending on the details of the incident, you could be facing an extensive prison sentence and expensive fines if the case ends with a conviction. The defense team with Pumphrey Law Firm are familiar with Florida’s various traffic laws and the potential defenses available for certain offenses such as reckless driving and DUI.

Contact our office today by calling (850) 681-7777 or filling out our form to receive a free consultation regarding your case.

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