A Guide to Riding Electric Scooters Safely

Published on October 25, 2019
  1. Introduction to Riding Electric Scooters Safely 
    1. Remember: Electric Scooters Move Fast
  2. Always Wear the Proper Safety Gear 
    1. Head Injuries Are a Serious Risk 
    2. How to Properly Wear a Helmet 
    3. Properly Fitting a Helmet 
    4. Selecting the Right Helmet 
    5. Other Protective Gear 
  3. Maintaining Visibility on the Road 
    1. Wear Bright Colored Clothing 
    2. Wear Reflective Gear 
    3. Select Visible Routes
  4. Electric Scooter Safety at Night 
    1. Start With Reflectors 
    2. Wear Lighted Gear 
    3. Make Sure the Scooter’s Lights Are Working Properly 
  5. Riding Electric Scooters Safely Offroad 
    1. Only Ride Off Road Scooters Off the Road 
    2. Use the Proper Safety Equipment 
    3. Go Slow! 
  6. Other Electric Scooter Safety Tips 
  7. In Conclusion: Electric Scooters Can be Very Safe 

1. Introduction to Riding Electric Scooters Safely

Wondering how to stay safe while riding an electric scooter? This is the guide for you!

Electric scooters offer an affordable, convenient, and environmentally friendly way to get around town. While electric scooters offer many benefits, there are some drawbacks. Since scooters are often used on busy walkways or on the road, safety is a particularly important issue. Scooters can be a safe mode of transportation but proper precautions must be exercised.

Public health officials are rightly concerned about the injuries caused by scooters. While most people will enjoy their scooter ride without incident, some people will occasionally suffer injuries. Indeed, the CDC conducted a study and found that electric scooter riders suffered 20 injuries per 100,000 rides. While this might not sound like much, public officials believe the number is simply too high and note that most if not all of the accidents were preventable. 

Most scooters are used in cities, which are crowded with motorists, pedestrians, and other hazards. If you want to operate an electric scooter safety in cities, it’s vital to follow the below tips. Electric scooter safety concerns are real, but in many cases, you can mitigate them.

By using the proper precautions, however, scooter riding can be one of the safest forms of transportation available. We’ll outline how to stay safe while operating an electric scooter. But first, let’s discuss an important danger: speed.

1.1 Remember: Electric Scooters Move Fast

It’s easy to underestimate electric scooters and the dangers they could pose if you’re not paying attention. Scooters, along with bicycles, rollerblades, and other devices, allow many people to go faster than they could run. Many electric scooters can reach speeds of 20 miles per hour, which is faster than most people can sprint.

If you’re sprinting down the road, you’re likely paying attention to what’s in front of you. Unfortunately, some scooter drivers, bicyclists, etc. become distracted and underestimate how fast they are traveling. 

At twenty miles per hour, a scooter driver will be traveling roughly 30 feet per second. If a hazard appears within thirty feet, that driver will have less than a second to react. Even if a hazard crops up a hundred feet down the road, the driver will have only a few seconds to react.

Fortunately, people can respond to visual stimuli, such as a child running into the road, in a quarter second or less. However, there’s a catch: the driver needs to be paying attention. If not, their reaction time could quickly drop from less than a second to three seconds or more. 

When riding an electric scooter, it’s important to remember just how fast you’re going. While it might seem like you’re casually cruising, you may actually be moving nearly as fast as an Olympic sprinter.

2. Always Wear the Proper Safety Gear

2.1 Head Injuries Are a Serious Risk

The CDC found that 15 percent of all injuries suffered while riding an electric scooter were traumatic head injuries. This is an especially serious issue because head injuries can cause permanent health complications and may even result in death. In fact, from the start of 2018 through June 2019, 11 people had died while riding a scooter, largely due to head injuries.

Given that there were an estimated 38.5 million electric scooter rides in 2018 alone, such tragedies remain extremely rare. Still, precaution can go along way towards preventing deaths and severe injuries. Besides maintaining vigilance, one of the best ways to protect yourself is to wear a helmet. Local and state laws may also require you to wear a helmet. 

2.2 How to Properly Wear a Helmet

First, you should wear a helmet that actually fits. If you wear a poor-fitting helmet, its protective capacities may be diminished. Let’s look at how you can properly size and wear a helmet.

*Keep in mind that some helmets may be designed differently. Check with the manufacturer to find the exact steps for properly fitting and wearing  any helmet.

Properly Fitting a Helmet

  • Find a helmet that fits snugly- Rest the helmet on your head, then shake your head from side-to-side. If the helmet rocks, it’s probably too loose.
  • The helmet should not exert enough pressure to feel painful.
  • If the helmet feels too tight, try a larger helmet but ensure you follow the first point.

Properly Wearing a Helmet

  • Position the helmet properly- The helmet should sit low on your forehead, just one or two finger-widths above your eyebrows. It should also sit level with your head.
  • With most helmets, you will center the left buckle under the chin. Usually, you can lengthen or shorten the chin straps by pulling from the back of the helmet. It may be easier to make adjustments with the helmet off.
  • Next, use the sliders on both straps and make a “v” shape that is slightly in front of and under the ears.
  • Now you’ll tighten the strap. You should be able to fit one or two fingers snugly under the strap but no more than that.

Feel confident with the helmet’s fit and position? Good! Now give yourself a yawn. The helmet should pull down on your head. If not, the straps may not be tight enough. If your helmet rocks forward towards your eyes, it may likewise be too loose or poor fitting.

Discard Your Helmet After an Accident

If you suffer an accident while wearing a helmet, you should discard the helmet afterward as it may have been compromised. While your helmet may look fine, it may be damaged and may not provide adequate protection in future accidents.

2.4 Selecting the Right Helmet

There are countless helmets manufactured by numerous brands for sale. Unfortunately, not all helmets are created equal and some will provide better protection than others. Below is a selection of five of the best electric scooter helmets available.

Thousand Adult Anti-Theft Helmet
-CPSC certified
-Integrated dial fit system
-Vegan leather straps and magnetic fastener
ROLLGAN Multipurpose Tough Sports Helmet
-CPSC certified
-Adjustable Knob and straps
-11 vents

174 Hudson Stack Helmet
-CPSC certified
-Reduces to half the size
-Hidden vents
Bell Annex MIPS Commuter Helmet
-CPSC certified
-Multi-directional impact protection system
-Equipped with light mount and reflective coating
BASE CAMP Adult Helmet with Rear Light
-CPSC certified
-Adjustable dial fit system
-Equipped with detachable rear light

2.5 Other Protective Gear

A helmet should be worn while operating an electric scooter rider and may be required by law. However, wearing additional protective gear will provide extra protection. Common protective gear includes:

  • Wrist Pads
  • Elbow Pads
  • Knee Pads
JBM Knee Pads Elbow Pads Wrist Guards 3 in 1
-EVA soft and durable padding
-Adjustable elastic straps
-Available in 2 sizes

While often not required by law, wearing such gear could save prevent painful and serious issues. If an individual has previously suffered a serious injury to their knees, elbows, or wrist, it is especially advisable that they wear additional protective gear.

No matter what gear you are wearing, it is important to remain vigilant. Even with the proper protective gear, you could suffer a serious injury in the event of an accident. Further, pedestrians, other scooter riders, bicyclists, and others could be injured in an accident.

3. Maintaining Visibility on the Road

Even if you’re wearing the proper safety equipment and are remaining vigilant while riding an electric scooter, there are many hazards on the road, sidewalks, and other walkways. Fact is, you could be injured even if you do everything right. Perhaps the biggest threats to scooter drivers are motorists. Pedestrians, bicyclists, animals, and children -among others- may also pose a danger.

Unfortunately, most cities are not equipped with scooter lanes. Often, scooters inhabit the same roads as cars, the same walk lanes as pedestrians, or the same bike lanes as bicyclists. Many motorists, pedestrians, and the like may not notice scooters and could accidentally collide with or impede a scooter driver. This could lead to an accident.

Hopefully, if such an event occurs, you’ll be wearing the appropriate safety gear. However, it’s best to prevent the accident in the first place. One way to reduce the risk of accidents is to increase how visible you are. This way, other scooter drivers, motorists, and everyone else will have an easier time seeing you.

Keep in mind that scooters are much smaller than trucks or cars. The smaller profile alone will make it more difficult for you to be seen. Also, motorists tend to focus on the road. If you enter a roadway from a sidewalk or bike lane, motorists might not be expecting it.

With all that in mind, let’s go over some ways you can increase visibility.

3.1 Wear Bright Colored Clothing

Motorists and pedestrians will be more likely to see you if you’re wearing bright-colored clothing. If you plan on riding an electric scooter for an afternoon, consider throwing on that bright yellow tee shirt or that blazing red one. If possible, select a scooter that is brightly colored as well.

The brightest, most noticeable colors include:

  • Red
  • Yellow
  • Orange
  • Cyan
  • Magenta

Neon and fluorescent colors are especially noticeable while pastels may appear muted. Green is a bright color as well, however, if you’re around a lot of greenery you may not stand out.

One study found that when bicyclists wore fluorescent yellow jackets, injuries were reduced by nearly 50 percent! Injuries from motorized vehicles decreased even more. Electric scooter drivers should enjoy a similar reduction in injuries.

Another easy way to ensure you’ve got some bright colors on is to select a brightly colored helmet. Rather than a black or gray helmet, why not wear an orange one? You can even place stickers or reflectors on the helmet to make it more visible.

3.2 Wear Reflective Gear

Reflective gear is a wise idea. You can use reflective tape or wear a vest with reflective surfaces already attached to it. This gear will reflect light, especially from headlights, helping make you more visible. You can also attach reflective gear to your helmet or the scooter itself.

Want to learn more about electric scooter safety gear that you can use to increase visibility? Check out our top four scooter visibility gear list below.

High-Intensity Reflective Tape
-Can be applied to scooter, helmet, jacket and backpack
-Powerful adhesive
-1inch x 5yards
RydeSafe Reflective Decals – Hexagon Kit
-Engineering-grade reflective film
-Customize your gear and accessories

Reflective Vest With 2 High-Vis Safety Bands
-Visible a thousand feet away
-Light-weight and breathable
-Includes a pocket for phone or wallet
ARSUXEO Winter Thermal Softshell Jacket
-Three layers keep you dry and warm
-Windproof and Waterproof
-Reflective fabric for improved night time visibility

3.3 Select Routes Where You Will Be Visible

Not all routes and paths are equal, especially when it comes to visibility. When possible, it’s best to ride in bike lanes. Not only will you avoid contended with motor vehicles, but bike lanes are often clearly marked and many drivers will pay attention to them. Also, make sure you pay attention to how fast cars are traveling.

It’s also best to avoid sidewalks and especially crowded sidewalks. Quite simply, pedestrians often aren’t paying close attention to their surroundings. They may be busy with their phone or in the middle of a conversation.

When possible, try to avoid routes where you will be hidden behind the environment, such as bushes and cars. Also, try to avoid sharp turns or hilly areas where you may suddenly “pop up” in front of other people.

Not familiar with the area? You can use Transit App or Google Maps to plan out a safe route.

4.0 Electric Scooter Safety at Night

Some people choose to ride electric scooters at night. However, you should understand that doing so increases various risks. If possible, it’s best to only ride electric scooters during the daylight hours. If you must ride an electric scooter at night, it’s best to do so in well-lit areas.

That being said, there are steps you can take to increase visibility at night. Keep in mind that motorists and pedestrians will experience less visibility at night, so it is especially important to remain aware of your surroundings.

4.1 Start With Reflectors

It’s advisable to wear reflectors during the day. It’s even more vital to wear reflectors at night. Most if not all cars should have their headlights on. If the beams hit you and you’re wearing reflective gear, the driver should see a bright reflection.

Popular bright reflective gear includes:

  • Reflective tape
  • Reflective jackets
  • Reflective vests
  • Reflective stickers for the scooter and helmet

Reflective materials have been found to substantially increase visibility at night. Reflective gear is essentially a must if you are riding an electric scooter at night. However, they may not be enough. Let’s take a look at what else you might need.

4.2 Wear Lighted Gear

Earlier, we mentioned how fast electric scooters can travel (up to roughly 30 feet a second!). Cars can travel much faster. Likewise, pedestrians may not travel very fast but have a tendency to step out right in front of scooters. This makes visibility important, especially at night, visibility can help you avoid accidents.

Reflectors are a good start, but on their own may not be enough. Fortunately, you can purchase lighting devices that can provide additional visibility. Many of these devices flash brightly, quickly drawing the eyes of motorists and pedestrians alike. 

You can check out several of the best lighting devices below.

BLACKBURN Central 50 Rear Light
-Bright LED provides superior side visibility
-IPX-4 waterproof
-Battery gauge
Cycle Torch Night Owl Rechargeable Light
-Rechargeable with 2+ hours of runtime on high
-IPX-5 waterproof
-Free bright tail-light

FANCYWING LED Turn Signal Backpack Widget
-Remote controlled LED’s for signaling
-Reflective material
-Attaches to any backpack
LX LERMX Adjustable Bar End Mirrors
-Enables maximum visual of the road behind you
-Fully adjustable
-Aluminum alloy

4.3 Make Sure the Scooter’s Lights Are Working Properly

Some electric scooters are equipped with lights. You should make sure they work properly. However, many scooters do not come equipped with lights. You can buy aftermarket lights that can be attached to the scooters. If you plan to regularly ride an electric scooter at night, you should consider buying lights.

5.0 Riding Electric Scooters Safely Offroad

Just as nighttime scooter riding poses extra dangers, so too does taking your scooter offroad. Most of the above safety tips will help ensure safer offroad riding, but there are some extra things you should consider as well. Let’s take a look.

5.1 Only Ride Off Road Scooters Off the Road

Most scooters simply are not designed for offroad use. A paved walkway is much different from a mountain trail. If you take a scooter intended for city use offroad, you’re greatly increasing the risks. 

City scooters don’t have the proper:

  • Tires- you’ll need larger, more grippy, and more durable tires.
  • Shocks/suspension- You’re in for a bumpy ride if you take a city scooter out on the trail.
  • Brakes- Larger, more robust brakes are advisable.
  • Steering- City scooters are designed to be steered on smooth surfaces, not trails.

Quite simply, a city scooter should not be taken offroad. 

5.2 Use the Proper Safety Equipment

Earlier, we outlined the importance of wearing the appropriate safety gear. Safety gear is important for operating an electric scooter safely in cities. Offroad, it’s absolutely necessary. The risk of falls and wipeouts is simply greater when you’re offroad. This is true even if you’re using an off road scooter.

Further, helmets, knee pads, wrist guards, and all the rest that are made for city use may not be strong enough for offroad use. You should use offroad specific gear. Fortunately, we’ve put together a selection of the best off road scooter gear right here:

Viking Ironside Mesh Jacket
-Lightweight cooling mesh allowing for full range of motion
-Fitted armor on shoulders, back and elbows
-2 inside and outside pockets
2.Pellor Riding Protector Vest
-Comfortable protection for spine and chest
-Padded foam on the inside
-Available in 4 sizes
3.DC Men’s MASWELL Shoe
-Composed of leather, rubber and textile
-EVA sockliner
-Grippy, wide and flat soles ensure maximum stability
4.Seibertron Dirtpaw Unisex Off-Road Gloves
-Touch screen functionality
-Silicon and rubber for maximum grip and protection
-Available in 5 sizes
5.Fox Racing Goggles
-Wide lexan lens for superb vision
-100% UV protection
-Triple layer foam

5.3 Go Slow!

Finally, it’s important to go slow when scootering offroad. Trails twist and turn quickly, and it’s easy to wipeout on dirt, sand, and grass. While it’s advisable to take it easy in the city, it’s even more important to go slow offroad.

Think of it this way, most mountain bikes are geared for slower travel because they’re meant for going offroad. Likewise, if you take a horse through mountainous terrain, it’ll be at a gentle walk. The same is true for electric scooters, take it slow!

6.0 Other Electric Scooter Safety Tips

We have already covered a lot of safety tips for electric scooters. By following the above suggestions, you should be able to reduce the risk of accidents and injuries while riding an electric scooter. However, there are several more tips and considerations worth going over.

One Scooter, One Rider- It might be tempting to save a bit of money and carry an additional rider while on an electric scooter. However, scooters are more difficult to handle if two people are riding on them at once. In order to maintain safety, only one person should be on a scooter at any given time.

Make Sure the Scooter is Charged- Electric scooters can carry a charge for incredible distances, given their small size. However, all scooters will eventually run out of charge. This could leave you stuck on a busy roadway. Make sure your scooter is charged before riding.

Keep Both Hands on the Handle- Both hands should remain on the steering handle at pretty much all times. You might think that you can safely handle your scooter with one hand but you’ll be more likely to lose control.

Check the tires- Every time you rent or use an electric scooter, you should check the tires. First, make sure that the tire is fully inflated, if not you’ll increase your risks of suffering a flat and the scooter may also be more difficult to handle. Also, ensure that there is enough tread. If the tread on a tire is worn down, the scooter may be more difficult to handle.

Avoid wet roads when possible- It’s best not to ride an electric scooter after it rains. The road will be more slippery, making the scooter more difficult to control. If you must ride on wet surfaces, slow down. The scooter will be easier to handle. Don’t use an electric scooter during a thunder or lightning storm. Instead, seek shelter.

Watch out for grates- While bicycles may be able to ride over sewer grates and the like, it’s much more difficult with an electric scooter. The small tires make it difficult, if not impossible, to ride over such surfaces.

Keep an eye on uneven surfaces- Bicycles can also handle other uneven surfaces more easily. While a bicycle might simply roll over a crack in the road, if you’re on an electric scooter, you may lose control.

Watch out for rocks- Rocks also pose a danger and are common on roadways. If you hit a rock, it could cause you to lose control. Likewise, the rock could become jammed in the wheel well.

Know your route- It’s best to ride electric scooters in areas you’re already familiar with. This way, you’ll already have an idea where potential hazards are and areas that get particularly crowded with cars or pedestrians. If you must ride in an unfamiliar area, slow down.

Big Cities, Big Risks- You need to be extra careful in order to ride electric scooters safely in New York City, Atlanta, Chicago, and other big cities. The bigger the city, the more likely roads and walkways will be congested.

7.0 In Conclusion: Electric Scooters Can be Very Safe

Based on the current data, electric scooters are already a safe mode of transportation. Yes, accidents do occur but they are rare and far between. Still, by following the above tips and using the best electric scooter safety equipment, including helmets and visibility devices, you can lower the risks of suffering an accident even more.

It’s impossible to completely eliminate the dangers. This is true for every mode of transportation, including cars, bicycles, planes, and even walking. However, by remaining vigilant and taking proper precautions, you will be able to greatly reduce risks.