Bicycle Helmet Safety Institute

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Helmets for Electric Scooters and emobility devices

Summary: CPSC recommends a bicycle helmet for low speed powered scooters.

We usually target our helmet advice to bicycle riders, but the electric scooters and other emobility devices being put out by Bird, Lime, Scoot and others have very similar injury characteristics.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has issued an advisory recommending the use of bicycle helmets for riding powered scooters, along with knee and elbow pads. In 2006 they issued another recommendation that bicycle helmets are fine for low powered motorized scooters. Their current web page lists many activities with helmet recommendations, including "kick scooter riding" and recommends a bike helmet. they also have an interesting study of electric scooter injuries and deaths done way back in 2004.

There is no US government or other standard specifically for electric scooters or other emobility devices. Speeds and impact velocities are similar to bicycle riding. So we would recommend that you look at our advice for buying a bike helmet and our page on helmets for the current season. You probably do not have to be as concerned with ventilation as a bicycle rider would, since riding an electric scooter takes less effort and will not produce as much body heat as bike riding. But since your helmet will probably end up being used for bike riding as well, you may want to take a look at the vents anyway.

Powered scooters are a different class of vehicle. They are less stable and controllable than a bicycle, but they can turn an urban area with poor access to transit into a walkable neighborhood. You need a helmet while riding them, particularly because at this point nobody else on the road is expecting a scooter. When cities begin to provide better accommodation for them on roadways they will be safer, and should provide a useful addition to our transportation choices.

eBikes are similar to bicycles but typically will be traveling faster than a pedaled bicycle. Some assist up to 28 mph. We have a separate ebike page for those.

Injury Data

The first study on scooter injury has been published in the Journal of the American Medical Association. Injured scooter riders are showing up in many emergency departments, and the study details the injury pattern for a one year period for patients at two emergency departments in Southern California:

"In this study of a case series, 249 patients presented to the emergency department with injuries associated with electric scooter use during a 1-year period, with 10.8% of patients younger than 18 years and only 4.4% of riders documented to be wearing a helmet. The most common injuries were fractures (31.7%), head injuries (40.2%), and soft-tissue injuries (27.7%)."

And here is a blog article with some leads to new e-scooter injury studies.

The pattern that is emerging involves crashes mostly related to catching the tiny front wheel in pavement irregularities or potholes, followed by flipping over the front bars. Road rash is almost universal, followed by upper extremity injuries: hands, wrists, elbows, shoulders. And of course heads, since most scooter riders are not wearing helmets.

Bottom Line

CPSC believes that a bike helmet provides sufficient protection for electric scooter riding. Scooter injuries are evident, but not yet well-studied. Most are from falls, not crashes with cars.