As e-scooter rentals make inroads throughout Florida communities, what do you need to know?
The first pilot e-scooter program launched in Tampa in late May, opening with 900 of the e-scooters for rent. Supporters say they are an affordable and environmentally positive way for residents and tourists to move in high-traffic areas.
Others say they are dangerous and point to the recent death of a 33-year-old man who was injured while riding a rental e-scooter. Many of those renting e-scooters, which can travel at speeds up to 20 mph, are inexperienced, first-time riders who can lose control, harming themselves or someone else.
Florida Gov. Ron Desantis signed a bill last month allowing electric scooters to travel in bike lanes. Opponents say if the drivers lose control, the e-scooters could wind up swerving into traffic and posing a hazard. Their position in bike lanes also can impact bicyclists and even pedestrians.
Tampa General has seen a 500 percent increase in injuries cause by e-scooters, according to a report. Those injured on an e-scooter likely will be liable for their own medical costs as well as those of someone that they, as a rider, might injure.
E-scooter renters must sign a waiver that limits the rental company’s liability in the case of injury, making it difficult to claim compensation for injuries.
Scooter riders are not required to wear a helmet, but a 2019 study by the Austin Public Health system showed that 48 percent of injuries among e-scooter riders were head injuries. The use of helmets and bright clothing could lead to increased rider safety.
If you intend to rent an e-scooter, you must know that the liability could be your own if you injure someone or are injured. If you’re a pedestrian, cyclist or driver injured by an e-scooter, you could face a difficult legal journey as you pursue costs for your medical expenses.