The foot-propelled scooters have become a rage the world over. These require that you balance with one leg while push with the other. These also exercise the muscles as well as the heart and are fun to ride.
The kickboard scooters are equipped with low-friction wheels. These are composed of lightweight aluminum and can be folded to be carried easily.
These are the reasons the popularity of these vehicles have surged in the past few years. Unfortunately there has been a corresponding rise in injuries as well. According to reports in 2000 there were millions of Americans who took up scooter riding and in the same year the CPSC reported that there was a 700 percent rise in hospital visits for scooter injuries. Most of the injuries were suffered by children below 15 years of age. The CPSC believes that suitable protective gear could have prevented almost 60 percent of the injuries.
With so many injuries reported the question arises as to whether scooters are safe to ride? They are in fact as safe as the skateboards and bicycles. Most of the scooters are designed so as to enable them to be used on flat, smooth surfaces. It is best to avoid rough roads as the wheels of the scooter can get caught in the cracks or potholes. It is important that riders use their skill, equipment and common sense while they are riding the scooter. Every child must ride when under the supervision of an adult.
Children get injured mostly as a result of trying to spin, jump or twirl. Scooters are not suitable for such stunts. These are not as stable as skateboards that are equipped with four wheels and thus are at a greater risk for accidents.
When handled with care, gas scooters, electric scooters, pocket bikes, ATV's, go-karts and other motorized products are great fun to use. However since these are motorized, certain safety guidelines need to be followed by the rider. Some of the safety measures to be adopted are:
Motorized and Non-Motorized Scooter Safety
- It is imperative that you wear helmet, knee pads and elbow pads while you are driving.
- Children below 8 years of age should not be allowed to ride without adult supervision. Children below the age of 12 should not use motorized scooters.
- Stay away from uneven roads and gravel.
- Do not ride your scooter in traffic.
- Do not ride scooters at night.
- It is best to wear sturdy shoes while riding.
- You should be knowledgeable about the local laws concerning scooters.
Safety Recommendations for Go Carts
- Know your scooter/go-Kart: Acquaint yourself thoroughly with your scooter/kart before you start to ride. Ride carefully until you are sure about how to handle the vehicle. Be slow while taking turns and allow extra stopping.
- Ride within your abilities: You need to have full control over your scooter and ride it in the direction where you want to go.
- Body position: While riding keep your weight between the wheels. While applying breaks, lean backwards and when you are accelerating shift your weight forwards. Place your feet wide apart to keep the balance.
- Turning: It might be difficult for a new rider to turn properly. The best way to get it right is to practice as often as you can.
- Braking: You will have to practice this till you are comfortable applying brakes the right way. You will have to learn to shift your center of gravity so as to maintain balance.
- Areas to ride: Ride in a place that is safe and do not have much traffic. You should not disturb other people or animals while you are riding.
Rules to follow for all scooters
- Remember to wear your safety gear.
- Never ride when you are drunk or have taken drugs.
- Familiarize yourself with the local laws and regulations.
- Ride defensively.
- Wear bright clothes.
- If you are riding at the time of dawn, dusk or at times when visibility is poor without a proper lighting system, you are flouting regional laws. It is dangerous to ride without approved reflectors and can lead to serious injuries and even death.
- Do not speed out of driveways or from between parked vehicles.
- Observe traffic lights.
- Check traffic carefully and do not swerve while you are looking over the shoulder.
- Remember to go with the traffic flow and stay at the far side of the road.
- Riding at wet conditions is not encouraged. It is dangerous and increases the risk of accidents.
- Stunts, wheelies or jumps are fun but these might be dangerous and harm the riders.
- When you are riding, you share roads, trails and riding areas with other vehicles. Pay heed to their rights and tolerate the inconveniences that might be caused by them.
- Remember to yield right of way to the pedestrian and animals. Do not ride too close to them.
- Always ride at consistent speed and remember that speed is related to component stress as well as control.
- Never carry any passengers.
- It is recommended that you do not carry anything that might obstruct the vision or control of the vehicle.
- Be responsible for the environment and ride accordingly.
- Do not try karts on the streets. These are meant for recreational purposes only.
Pocket Bike Safety Recommendations
Protective Gear: It is important that you wear protective gear including helmets, pads and other accessories to help you stay safe.
Manufacturer's Age Recommendations
The CPSC recommends motorized scooters for individuals who are 12 years and above. Manufacturers however recommend scooters for individuals who are 16 and above.
CPSC Staff Powered Scooter Study
According to a study conducted by the CPSC there were more than 10,000 injuries from powered scooters in the year July 2003 to July 2004. The agency also reports that less than half of the injured wearing helmets or any other form of protective gear such as elbow pads or knee pads. Most of the victims, as much as two thirds were children who were under 15 years of age.
According to Hal Stratton, the chairman of CPSC, 7 out of 10 accidents were the result of environment or behavior related factors. He stressed on the need to follow local laws and regulations as well as the safety guidelines that can play a major role in preventing injuries.
Other reports by the CPSC are:
- Some of the reasons that led to the accidents were: operators losing control of the vehicle, the brakes being applied too quickly, the vehicle being accelerated unexpectedly, the operator falling out o the scooter, there were two persons riding on the scooter, the scooter hit a bump, pothole or a curb, or the vehicle rode over the gravel. According to reports close to 71 percent of the accidents were operator related while the environment was responsible for 35 percent of the accidents. There were some that were a result of both the factors.
- The agency reported that one in five accidents were attributed to scooter problems including brake failure, accelerator problems, loose handlebars and the like.
- Most of the injuries suffered were abrasions, contusions, hematomas or lacerations. More than one fifth of the injuries were fractures.
According to CPSC reports 49 deaths from October 1998 to November 2004 is the result of riding powered scooters. 29 deaths in the same duration were attributed to motor vehicles.
It is good to equip these scooters with gasoline or electric engines. Both these types of scooters are usually fitted with two wheels, handlebars and a platform. These are also equipped with detachable seats.
CPSC has outlined a few safety rules that should be followed by riders to avert accidents and injuries.
- The agency recommends that all riders wear helmets together with elbow and knee pads.
- It is always better to ride on smooth roads and avoid sand, dirt, water and gravel as these cause damage to the scooter and may also lead to accidents.
- It is best to avoid riding scooters at night.
- The agency also recommends that children who are below the age of 12 do not ride high speed motorized scooters.
There are some local jurisdictions that prevent the riding of powered scooters on the sidewalks and the roadways. It is imperative that the owners of the motorized vehicles know about the riding guidelines from the local authorities.