Bird, Bolt, Lime, Scoot, Skip and Spin look like a list of spelling words but the six are among a score of companies vying for their piece of the increasingly lucrative electric scooter business. Drive anywhere in Atlanta — Buckhead, Midtown, the Beltline and other popular neighborhoods– and you’ll see those ubiquitous two-wheel scooters. They’ve fast become a popular way to get from point A to point B — especially for those going relatively short distances. Indeed, one of our own attorneys uses one to get to and from Atlanta Falcons games. The attraction is obvious. The cost to unlock one with a smartphone app is usually $1 and the rates are around 15 cents per minute. Faster and easier than walking. Cheaper than a taxi or an Uber. Easy to maneuver. Get where you’re going and leave it for the next rider. No need to search, and pay, for a parking place. All are meeting a demand for fuel-efficient vehicles, reducing rising carbon and greenhouse gas emissions, and responding to municipal mandates encouraging green vehicles. In addition to metro Atlanta they’re showing up around the state in cities like Athens, Augusta, Macon and Columbus.
Accidents Involving Electric ScootersEfficient. Economical. Fun. Unless you’re hit by a car. Then what? At the beginning of this year Consumer Reports tallied over 1,500 accidents involving scooter during the past 12 months. Just last week, Atlanta suffered the first fatality of an e-scooter rider; Amis Eric Jr. was struck by a vehicle while exiting the parking lot of the West Lake MARTA station. Additionally, studies to date show helmet usage has not caught on in significant numbers, making head injuries likely. Broken bones and other orthopaedic trauma are not far behind. So what do you do when your scooter excursion turns into an accident? Best-case scenario is the at-fault driver has enough insurance for your pain and suffering. If there is not sufficient insurance coverage from the at-fault party, or that other driver leaves the scene of the accident in a hit-and-run situation, the scooter operator might have some relief if they have uninsured motorist coverage. That’s after the fact. Here are some proactive steps to take before taking your first scooter jaunt:
- Rent one in a quiet part of town where you can practice starting, stopping, turning, etc.
- Check your local laws — some municipalities are starting to regulate scooter usage. Some are now outlawing them from sidewalks, for example.
- Wear a helmet. Mom’s right. You only get one brain. Take care of it.
- Scope out the neighborhood you will be riding in most frequently, at the time of day you will be there. Know what sort of traffic you can expect to be traveling with.
- Know what you auto policy does and doesn’t cover. If using a scooter is not listed, talk to your agent about adding it before your first scooter ride.