CONNECTICUT (WFSB) - Doctors across the state say they are seeing an increase in injuries due to e-scooters.
These scooters came to the city in April and have provided more than 144,000 rides.
They’re popular all over the country and whether you bought them for your kids or renting them, the vast majority have had no issues.
For others, they’ve gone through life-altering injuries.
Rather than driving or using a bus, Julianna Velazquez uses the LINK electric scooters to get to work.
“It’s just something fun to do.” She said, “I have used it to go to work before. It is cheaper than Uber of Lyft and it’s more enjoyable.”
Others take them out for joyrides.
Eli Williams said, “You can visit friends, and all have fun together, but most of the time it’s just for fun.”
In Hartford, the LINK scooters are available to those 18 and older, but that’s not preventing anyone with the app and a credit card from hopping on.
This year, for a handful of young electric scooter riders, their joyrides turned into hours long surgeries.
Dr. David Hersh is a pediatric neurosurgeon at CT Children.
“We have been seeing a definitive uptick in the number of injuries we’re seeing from these electric scooters,” he said. “I think we underestimated the extent to which they’ve been causing a problem though.”
Dr. Hersh showed scan of a teenager’s skull. The teen crashed into another scooter rider and essentially face-planted. The patient had to go through a seven-hour surgery.
“We found there were significant depressed and displaced fractures to the forehead region, two frontal bones, we saw injuries to the bones that surround the eyes, to the nose itself,” said Hersh.
Doctors said the severity of this injury is something you’d normally see in a car crash or motorcycle accident.
Doctors aren’t saying all of the injuries happened on these LINK electric scooters, but since LINK scooters arrived in April, Connecticut Children’s reports they’ve treated at least 12 patients who had injuries after riding them.
Doctors are still reviewing data on the number of injuries in years prior but are confident they’re see more this year.
The stats for adults aren’t in from Hartford Hospital or Saint Francis, but Dr. Brendan Campbell said injuries are happening all over the country, not just in Hartford.
“Over the last couple of years there have been over 27 deaths and over 50,000 emergency department visits directly from e-scooter related injuries,” said Campbell.
Doctors said when they saw these stationed all over the city earlier this year, they were anticipating the injuries.
The scooters can go up to 15 miles an hour and just by design, they’re not going to be able to handle potholes or other bumps in the road like motorcycles or bicycles.
“I think you have less control; I think you’re going a little bit faster. I honestly think the visibility is less on e-scooters,” said Campbell.
For those using LINK in Hartford, the company says they’ve added slow zones where scooters are capped at 8 mph.
Doctors said helmets would be a huge step towards avoiding any type of injuries and looking at the label again, LINK says helmets are a “must,” but they’re not offered.
For a lot of riders, by nature, that’s not how they’re using these scooters.
Velazquez said, “It’s mostly spontaneous. I just see one and I’ll be like, I should ride that. It’s in the moment thing, I don’t really think about grabbing a helmet.”
The City of Hartford distributed free ones at city hall this month and officials said: “Safety is our top priority, and the City encourages everyone who rides a scooter to wear a helmet and exercise caution.”
Doctors said a lot of the injuries are from first time users and people who have not had a lot of experience riding them.
A statement from the company said "One injury is too many. Our commitment to safety doesn’t end with building the world’s safest scooter, we want the safest riders, too. That’s why in addition to distributing free helmets at events all over the city, we’re partnering with BiCi Co. to give out helmets to community members outside of our events. With over 144,000 rides on LINK scooters in just six months, people in Hartford have quickly made us an integral part of their lives and transportation. We’ll keep working to keep them safe."