Fort Lauderdale Contemplating New E-Scooter Law Following 74 Accidents and 1 Death
June 24, 2019
What was once thought of as cool and fun modes of transportation to get around town are now something some wish would be outlawed entirely.
Electric scooters, or e-scooters, which are rechargeable scooters that are rented using a cellphone app, have the spotlight now as many believe safety reforms are needed if these vehicles are to have continued use in the city.
One man, 55, was riding an e-scooter to meet his mother at Starbucks when he was struck by a truck. Several broken bones and two surgeries later, the man believes safety measures like slower speeds, fewer scooters, and better public awareness and education should be implemented.
Many second his opinion and think they do not mix with cars or pedestrians. Fort Lauderdale’s e-scooter program is now being discussed by city leaders as to whether new rules should be imposed to make scooter riders and other pedestrians safer. A new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis on Tuesday legalized the motorized scooters on Florida streets, where they’ll be treated like bicycles and allowed to zip along in bike lanes.
Fort Lauderdale, one of the first Florida cities to welcome them to sidewalks last fall, will now discuss whether to remove them from some busy sidewalks - like Las Olas Boulevard and State Road A1A - or ask scooter companies to lower speeds from 15 miles an hour to something slower, require helmets or impose age restrictions. Cities also can regulate where and how scooters are parked on public streets or sidewalks.
The new devices, unleashed on streets across the country in 2018, are wildly popular, helping thousands of people make short trips without getting into a car. Companies Lime, Bird, Bolt and Gotcha rolled out hundreds of scooters in Fort Lauderdale as part of a yearlong pilot program.
Dan Lindblade, president of the Greater Fort Lauderdale Chamber of Commerce, is among their advocates, likening them to another disruptive new technology, the Uber ridesharing app. He urged commissioners not to over-regulate.
However, these vehicles have very real dangers that have filled emergency rooms.
A South Florida Sun Sentinel review of Fort Lauderdale fire-rescue records found 74 scooter riders were in accidents from December through April. Of those, 57 were taken to the hospital. Ten suffered severe injuries.
Most of the accidents happened Friday through Sunday, and most were downtown, on Las Olas Boulevard or at the beach. A little more than half involved people 18 to 35 years old. Only five people were younger than 18 or older than 55.
Though several people suffered fractured skulls and life-altering injuries, only one man died.
A 27-year-old man was killed when an e-scooter he was riding in Fort Lauderdale was struck from behind by a car. The Fort Lauderdale police report from the man’s accident says he was riding a Lime scooter north at 11:30 p.m. in the right traffic lane on Federal Highway, about five blocks north of Broward Boulevard. A 22-year-old Fort Lauderdale woman driving north in the same lane hit him. His head struck her windshield, fracturing his skull.
Another victim, a 28-year-old security guard at Broward Health Medical Center, has been in a vegetative state since Dec. 28, when she was struck while riding a scooter on the south end of downtown. Her skull was fractured.
A 14-year-old boy was critically injured on Federal Highway downtown, struck at 3:30 in the morning on Dec. 1 by a hit-and-run driver. He suffered a head injury and broken bones.
Consumer Reports reported this month that eight people have died nationwide using rented e-scooters since 2017. The count did not include the fatality in Fort Lauderdale.
Last November, Fort Lauderdale was the first city in Florida to pass a law allowing scooters on sidewalks. Until the new statewide law, they were forbidden from streets.
City leaders will discuss July 9 what to do next.
Mayor Dean Trantalis said the scooter companies should improve safety. Though state law doesn’t require helmets, for example, scooter companies could.
Trantalis said a city survey showed the scooters take cars off the road and ease congestion. They could help fill short gaps in transit, getting a bus or train rider to the courthouse, for example.
Hoping to recommend safety improvements, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recently conducted its first study of e-scooter accidents, in Texas. The agency concluded that very few victims wore helmets. A significant number, nearly a third, were first-time riders. And a little more than half of the accidents occurred in the streets.
The CDC said safety enhancements should aim at the risks that can be prevented.
Our South Florida Injury Attorneys at Whittel & Melton know the potential for serious accidents is increased by unsafe use of electronic scooters, including:
- Children riding electric scooters
- People riding e-scooters without helmets
- People riding the scooters on sidewalks
- Scooters left abandoned in the middle of sidewalks
- Scooters blocking handicap access ramps
- People tandem riding the scooters
Electric scooters can travel up to 15 miles per hour. If a rider is struck by a car, serious injuries, including traumatic brain injury, paralysis, or death can result. An electric scooter accident can deliver serious injuries that affect you and your loved ones for the rest of your life. If someone else was at fault, they should be liable for your pain and suffering, medical bills, lost wages, and all other damages. You need an aggressive personal injury lawyer on your side to demand fair compensation for your losses. At Whittel & Melton, our Fort Lauderdale Injury Attorneys specialize in helping victims injured due to someone else’s negligence.
Due to the fact that electric scooters as a means of transportation has risen in popularity so recently, legal matters can be somewhat complex with no set precedence. But, regardless of the situation, negligence is negligence, and whoever is responsible for the unfortunate incident and injury should be held liable.
E-scooter riders will most likely be the first to blame when it comes to accidents. The rental company, Bird, Lime, Jump, and Lyft, may say that the rider assumed the risk of liability when they chose to get on the scooter. The insurance company may claim the rider was behaving recklessly by not following the rules. Whatever the case, evidence is required to help injury victims seek justice when someone else’s negligent actions result in harm. If you have been injured on an e-scooter in South Florida, we may be able to help.