More and more cities across the nation are implementing electric shared scooter programs. In fact, riders took 38.5 million trips on shared electric scooters in 2018, eclipsing the 36.5 million trips on shared docked bicycles, according to an April report by the National Association of City Transportation Officials.
Chicago is the latest city to roll out a pilot plan for shared electric scooters. However, the National Safety Council says that just like bicyclists and pedestrians, scooter drivers are "vulnerable road users," meaning they are unprotected by an outside shield and therefore, likely to sustain a greater risk of injury in any collision with a vehicle.
Vulnerable road user fatalities have been increasing in the U.S. at an alarming rate. In 2016, there were 5,987 pedestrian fatalities, 5,286 motorcyclist fatalities, and 840 bicyclist fatalities, notes the council. Now, millions of scooter riders comprise the newest population of vulnerable road users.
While scooter drivers need to do their part — wear helmets, slow down, and follow traffic laws — in order to stay safe, vehicle drivers also need to know how to safely share the road with electric scooter users.
Experts offer the following advice for automotive drivers:
Beware of Blind Spots
Scooters are slim and can easily disappear in your blind spot. So be extra cautious and be on the lookout for them.
If you see a scooter user up ahead, slow down as you pass him or her. They are far more vulnerable than you.
Stay out of Bike Lanes
While laws vary city to city, in many places scooter users will ride in the bike line. Never drive in a dedicated bike lane—you could easily hit a scooter rider or a cyclist.
Yield When Turning
Be cautious when turning and always yield to scooters, as you would to cyclists and pedestrians.
As with bicyclists, scooters can only go so fast. If an electric scooter user gets in front of you, do not tailgate or use aggressive tactics like hostile horn honking. Such actions could easily startle the scooter rider and cause him or her to loose balance or fall.
Be Vigilant at Night
Scooter users may well ride in the evening hours. Because scooters do not have traditional headlights, they may be difficult to spot even in better-lit urban areas, so be extra aware of their existence when driving at night.