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Lisa Black

Electric scooters (e-scooters) are an increasingly common sight in U.S. cities and on college campuses, whether they can be rented like bicycles for convenience or purchased for personal use.

Teens may be attracted to them, and families may be tempted to take a child on a ride. With the holiday gift-giving season upon us, it is important to be aware of dangers and regulations surrounding e-scooters and how to keep kids safe as riders or pedestrians.

“If you fall off an e-scooter, which can travel up to 15 and 20 miles per hour, you are going to get hurt,” said pediatrician Ashley Ebersole, MD, MS, FAAP. “Emergency department visits have spiked. While we most often see cuts, fractures and head injuries, some of these injuries are severe.”

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends that children under 16―who are too young to have a driver's license―should not operate or ride on motorized or electric scooters. There are three types: Non-motorized human-powered scooters operate without a motor; a motorized scooter is a two-wheeled vehicle with a rechargeable battery; and an e-scooter is a dockless two-wheeled vehicle available for rent in various cities.

All scooters pose a similar―if not increased―risk of head injury compared with bikes. Helmets are the best way to prevent serious head injuries, but usage remains low.

The following are 10 important safety rules for all e-scooter riders:

  1. Children under 16 should not operate or ride on motorized or e-scooters. In some cities, it is illegal for kids under 16 to use an e-scooter.
  2. Wear a helmet and closed-toe shoes. Wearing a helmet may prevent or reduce the severity of e-scooter injuries. An adult who falls off an e-scooter is just as likely to hit their head as a child. Adults can set positive examples for children and adolescents by wearing their helmets too.
  3. Wear protective gear. This includes elbow and kneepads and reflective gear when riding at night.
  4. Start slow. The accelerator and braking tabs on the handles can take getting used to.
  5. No texting and riding. Use both hands to operate the scooter.
  6. No earbuds in. Be aware of your surroundings.
  7. Use bike lanes when available. If not available, riders should stay on the right side of the road.
  8. Do not ride e-scooters on sidewalks, beach paths, or parks. This puts pedestrians at risk of injury as well as riders.
  9. Do not operate an e-scooter while under the influence of alcohol, drugs or even some prescription medicines. Parents should set an example for their children in this regard.
  10. E-scooters are not allowed on highways. Many e-scooter accidents involve motor vehicles. Be aware when riding an e-scooter on busy streets.

Many cities set an age restriction for 16 years and up to operate e-scooters. . Law enforcement can issue traffic violations to those who break those rules. A juvenile age 16 or over is treated as an adult for traffic offenses. For younger offenders, however, a court can require a parent or guardian to appear personally at court hearings and pay a fine.

Understand  that e-scooters are easily accessible to minors. For example, most cities do not have a way to verify a user's age, so children and teenagers are able to sign up on an app without parental consent. Make sure your children know the rules and your expectations. Check their phone if you have concerns.

“I encourage families to talk with their college-aged children about the dangers of operating e-scooters while texting, listening to music, or while under the influence of drugs or alcohol,” Dr. Ebersole said. “And if an e-scooter is on your holiday gift list, make sure that it comes with a helmet and a conversation about safety.”


The American Academy of Pediatrics is an organization of 67,000 primary care pediatricians, pediatric medical subspecialists and pediatric surgical specialists dedicated to the health, safety and well-being of infants, children, adolescents and young adults.

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