E-Scooter Rides on the Rise Along With Accidents

More than 90 people rushed to the E.R. since December following electric scooter accidents in our area.

About a minute.

That's all the time it takes to use your smartphone to rent one of the thousands of electric scooters popping up in cities across South Florida.

"I love the scooters. It's so convenient" said Miami's Chleb Ravenell as he rented one in Brickell. "I think they are perfect for the city."

Proponents see dock-less scooters as an affordable and easy way to get around crowded streets. Others just see it as a fun way to get around.

"We can't come to Downtown if we don't get a scooter," said Patricia Hernandez, 19, while riding e-scooters with her friends. "We really, really love them."

Hernandez is one of many fans.

Electric scooters are seen as an option to reduce South Florida’s traffic congestion, but they can also be dangerous. NBC 6 Investigates how many accidents have happened in our area and why some are calling for more oversight.

In Fort Lauderdale, one of the first cities in Florida to have them, more than a million miles have been ridden on e-scooters since November. According to the city's website, an average of 481 people ride them daily.

In Miami, about a half million riders have hopped on them so far this year.

"I'm a big believer that the e-scooter sharing system is going to have a big impact on our transit needs and the way we get around town," said Miami Commissioner Ken Russell, who pushed for a pilot program to bring e-scooters to the city.

There are six e-scooter companies operating in certain parts of his district including Coconut Grove, Brickell and downtown Miami.

Russell says the program is "going great," adding the city is trying to balance the pros and cons "to get it right."

Accidents on the Rise

But NBC 6 Investigators found the popular rides can be dangerous.

There were 129 accidents involving electric scooters in Miami and Fort Lauderdale from December to early July. Among them, Mathias Huff, a 27-year old man who died this spring after he was struck by a car while riding a scooter in Fort Lauderdale.

Tracy Jordan, a mother of four, knows the dangers.

Her oldest daughter, Ashanti, suffered a traumatic brain injury after colliding with a car last December. According to the police report, she ran a stop sign and was thrown from the e-scooter she was riding "several feet into the air."

"I feel like I wasn't there to protect her, sometimes I feel like I failed her because of that," Tracy said.

Ashanti, 27, rented a Lime scooter to get home from work that December afternoon. Moments later, she had to be rushed to Broward Health Medical Center - the same hospital where she worked as a security guard.

She hasn't left since.

"It's devastating to see someone so vibrant... confined to a bed," Tracy said while visiting her daughter, who remains unresponsive. "I wish it was me instead of her."

Ashanti Jordan, 27, suffered a traumatic brain injury after colliding with a car while riding an e-scooter in Fort Lauderdale.

Ashanti's injuries are among the more extreme reported, but emergency room doctors say injuries involving e-scooters are on the rise.

"People underestimate how dangerous it is when you have to brake suddenly or if they have to turn suddenly," said Dr. Jason Mansour, the Assistant Medical Director of Broward Medical Health Center's Emergency Department.

Records provided by fire departments in Fort Lauderdale and Miami show more than 90 people have been transported to the E.R. following e-scooter accidents since December. 

"The vast majority (of injuries) are lacerations and broken bones," Mansour said. "We do see significant numbers of head trauma and those are the ones that concern us the most."

Paramedics say serious accidents often involve crashes where an e-scooter is hit by a vehicle.

Too Young to Ride

"They are dangerous," Commissioner Russell admits. "It's not a kids' toy."

Most e-scooter companies don't allow minors to ride them, but NBC 6 Investigators spotted underage kids scooting around streets and sidewalks in dangerous situations.

NBC 6 Investigators spotted an underage kid riding an e-scooter in Brickell even though it's not allowed in the city.

Russell says educating parents about the rules is his "No. 1 concern," noting that the minimum age to ride in Miami is 18.

"I really don't want to see a kid get hurt on a scooter," he said. "We need to do a lot more because clearly, the simple rules that the apps contain are being by passed."

In Fort Lauderdale, at least seven underage kids have been involved in electric scooter accidents in the past few months - including a 14-year-old rider who sustained "several injuries" after being struck by a vehicle in early December.

According to a police report, his older brother rented a scooter on his behalf.

NBC 6 reached out to all the companies operating in our area. Four responded (Bird, Lime, Uber and Spin) saying they're committed to safety and that it's a priority.

All of them have programs to educate riders and some are giving out free helmets.

While helmets are encouraged, Tracy believes they should be required.

"She will never be able to live a normal life, never," she said referring to her daughter.

The Jordan family is now taking legal action against Lime. The company declined to discuss Ashanti's case citing the pending litigation but said, in an email, that "safety is paramount" and that it's working closely with cities "to help make streets safer for all users."

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