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The Electric Scooter Helmet Problem


Practically no electric scooter riders wear helmets.  As of January 1, 2019, adult riders of electric scooters are not required to wear helmets.  Only riders under age 18 are required to wear helmets. (California Vehicle Code Section 21235)

The Helmet Problem

Why is this a problem?  Because not wearing a helmet is so dangerous.  These are motorized vehicles.  Scooter companies claim that the scooters travel at a top speed of 15 mph.  We know from scooter mechanics that the scooters often travel above 15 mph.  If you crash while traveling at 15 to 20 mph and your head is not protected by a helmet, there is a good chance you will suffer injury to your brain. 

Electric scooter companies like Bird and Lime know it’s a good idea for riders to wear helmets. They know that their riders are suffering brain injuries as the result of crashes. Even though the law doesn’t require adult riders to wear helmets, Bird and Lime could and should require it.

Some of the electric scooter companies tout that, upon request, they will mail you a free helmet, provided you pay the shipping cost.  While we applaud their offer to get helmets into their riders’ hands, what they really need to do is get them on their riders’ heads at the time the scooter is rented…not weeks later.

The Simple Helmet Solution

Electric scooter companies can’t attach helmets to the scooters – communal helmets create sanitation issues (as anyone who has suffered a case of lice well knows).

Self-service kiosks with rentable helmets also wouldn’t work because electric scooters are dockless, thus kiosks would need to be on almost every corner.

Electric scooter companies are well aware of the simple helmet solution:

Before allowing a rider to unlock an electric scooter, Bird or Lime can require the renter to send a selfie showing that he or she is wearing a helmet, with the photo geo-tagged to the location of the scooter. No photo, no scooter.

Why Electric Scooter Companies Won’t Implement This Solution

Electric scooter companies won’t implement this obvious and simple solution because, with the negligible percentage of riders who carry helmets, this requirement would drastically reduce the number of scooters rented.

If electric scooter companies truly cared about the safety of their riders, as the companies claim, they would require their riders to wear helmets, and would immediately implement this solution.

We won’t hold our breath.

If you've been injured in an electric scooter accident, call our office today (310) 692-9582!

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