Electric scooters have become a preferred means of transport for many people today. More and more people, especially teens and younger children (and some adults), use electric scooters for traveling and leisure. Although these scooters can be fun to ride, one needs to be careful as a thrilling ride can turn into a grizzly accident in a blink of an eye. Outlined below are a few but essential safety tips when/if riding an electric scooter.
Electric Scooter Safety Begins with you – Preparation is Key!
You need to take responsibility for your own safety on an e scooter – here are some tips to do just that.
1. Always Have Personal Protective Equipment On
You can never be too prepared for an accident. Even the keenest of drivers/riders can find themselves in an accident. With some accidents unavoidable, you need to have all the right personal protective equipment (helmet, mouthguard, gloves, etc.) to help protect you from nasty injuries if the worst happens. Having elbow and knee straps, a helmet, and gloves on can be the difference between life and death when riding an electric scooter. The gloves, for example, ensure you have a firm grip on the handles, while the helmet protects you from head injuries. Make a habit of putting all these on whenever you have to ride the scooter down the street. Here is a good guide to the accessories you should have for riding an e scooter.
2. Have The Right Helmet
All helmets aren’t designed the same. Some helmets are designed for basic safety, and others designed to offer optimal protection without sacrificing comfort. That said, you want to be in the proper safety gear, and especially a helmet, should you have an accident. While all crashes are not preventable, having a proper helmet will help minimize the risk of head injuries, protecting you from a possible concussion.
The helmet is one of the essential safety gears every rider should have. Coupled with the proper safety gear, it can make the difference between life, life in a wheelchair, and death from an accident. The largest percentage of those who survive scooter accidents had their safety gear, which protected the hard asphalt or concrete.
According to research, more than 40.2% of e-scooter accident injuries happen to the head. Sadly, less than 5% of those injured from the accident had a helmet on. Interestingly, most e-scooter riders choose to skip the helmet but will have one on, when on a bicycle. Studies show that more than 25% of bicyclists wear a helmet when on the road. For this reason, the number of head injuries from bicycle-related injuries is significantly much lower, which has been attributed to their discipline in wearing a bike helmet.
A helmet is a bare minimum in terms of safety when riding an electric bike. We, however, recommend a proper helmet, preferably a full-face helmet, to use when riding your e-scooter. The ideal helmet should protect not only the head but the jaw/chin as well. A motorcycle or mountain bike helmet would come in handy here.
3. Get Eye Protection
Why should I get eye protection if I already have a helmet? Well, eye protection would be needed, especially if your helmet doesn’t have a visor on it. The visor, or eye protection, safeguards your eyes from the strong gush of wind and bugs that can get to your face and eyes when riding at high speeds. The last thing you want is a bug in your eye when riding at high speed. With eye protection, the bugs will simply be repelled off, leaving you to focus on the road. It also means you never have to take your hands off the handles to wipe the bugs or tears off.
The other reason is that eye protection, or an additional visor, will protect you from the sun’s glare as well. While a proper helmet will come equipped with a good enough visor, you can still invest in a pair of cheap sunglasses for extra protection.
4. Beware Of Your Surroundings
It is easy to get distracted when on your e-scooter. As tempting as it might be to stare at a bystander, you don’t want to get your eyes off the road, even for a split second. Your focus should always be on the road and watch out for potential barriers, oncoming traffic, and pedestrians as well. Avoid riding your e-scooter with music blaring from your headphones, either. These will make it almost impossible to hear what is around you. That said, learn to obey traffic rules and use the path, especially if the road is packed.
5. Beware Of Barriers
Bumps, potholes, puddles, crevices, and erected barriers are some of the things you need to be mindful and careful with when riding an e-scooter. Going over a speed bump at high speeds could send you flying off the scooter to the hard road or even cause an accident. Keeping a watchful eye on the road ahead will enable you to see and avoid a barrier on time. Consider slowing down whenever going over a bump or navigating around a pothole or puddle too.
Puddles are particularly dangerous when riding an e-scooter. While they might seem harmless, a small pool might hide crevices and even holes larger than your scooter wheels can handle. Always approach a puddle at a low speed and navigate slowly, especially if there’s no way around it. We also recommend riding at relatively low speeds in wet weather, or even better, don’t use the e-scooter at all.
6. Avoid Slippery Roads/Surfaces
Wet and slippery surfaces can be tricky and dangerous for every rider. The risk of sliding or falling over is relatively high, a reason you want to avoid such surfaces altogether. Muddy sidewalks, wet streets, metal surfaces, and marble tiles make it quite challenging to get traction and pose the highest risk of slip and fall accidents. As mentioned earlier, approach such surfaces with caution and preferably at the lowest speed possible.
7. Learn To Stay Calm At All Times
Sudden downpours can take you by surprise. However, it would be best if you didn’t get anxious or stressed when it happens, but rather push on slowly and carefully. It would be best if you were particularly careful when on the streets and pavements, as these can be slippery when wet. Consider pushing through the road slowly without accelerating too hard, as doing so will cause the wheels to slip.
8. Install Proper Lights
Most e-scooters lack adequate lighting; hence quite risky to use in the dark and other low-lit settings. Proper lighting is thus needed to not only enable you to see where you are going but for other road users to see you as well. The stock front lights of your e-scooter might not provide adequate illumination when riding at night, hence should be replaced with more capable ones. Even thought some scooters like the Xiaomi Mi Pro 2 are well light you could also invest in an external headlamp and have it installed on the handlebar for extra illumination.
Your taillights, too, might not be enough to show your position. While they don’t necessarily need to be bright, they are particularly too low down for most drivers to notice. Thus, it would be advisable to look for taillights that can be attached to your backpack for the best results.
9. Maintain And Service Your Scooter Regularly
E-scooters too need regular servicing and maintenance as other motor vehicles. Just because yours is plug-n-play doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be serviced and inspected every once in a while. It’s only by taking proper care of your e-scooter, and examining it before each ride, that you can be assured of reliability and, most importantly, safety. Here are some of the things you need to check before going for a ride:
a. Check the tire pressure
b. Ensure the folding mechanism is in place
c. Check the brakes
d. Take weekly or biweekly inspections
A deeper inspection is recommended at least once every two weeks. Some of the areas to inspect include:
a. Check for loose screws and bolts
b. Check for bents on brake discs
Make a habit of reading and familiarizing yourself with your E-scooters manuals too. Doing so should put you in a better position to notice when something is amiss and even fix it before it poses any risks. Ensuring your e-scooter is in the best condition possible will give you some peace of mind too. You don’t necessarily have to be a mechanic to know the basics of the electric scooter and how to fix a small issue, such as the folding mechanism. We’ve created a great guide on e-scooter maintenance here.
What To Do And Avoid When Riding An E-Scooter: Technique And General Behavior
Riding an e-scooter is almost similar to driving. Riders are thus advised to avoid riding in groups and avoid areas with lots of people, vehicles, and motorbikes, and with a good reason. The more people there are, the greater the risk of something going wrong or an accident. A simple mistake or misjudgment by a rider can lead to an accident and injuries after that. What you do when riding your scooter can directly affect or determine what happens to other users, you included.
How To Be Safe On A E-Scooter: Riding Style
A number of factors have to be considered if one wishes to be a better rider, commuter, and traffic participant. In addition to following all traffic rules and regulations, your behavior towards other people, especially road users, directly reflects your personality. Here are a few things to have in mind if looking to be a better rider and want to be safe on the road.
1. Be observant of everything around you
2. Use your brakes when you have to, carefully
3. Be a sensitive rider
4. Slow down before turning or looking back
5. Keep your hands on the handlebars all the time
These three forms the basis of a careful and safe scooter rider. It, however, doesn’t matter if you are a scooter or bike rider or a driver; following the three should make you a better rider/driver. Here is an outline of how.
1. Be Observant
Public roads can be quite unpredictable at times. They present a wide range of challenges ranging from rocks, potholes, puddles, shattered glass, or even fallen logs/trees. You thus need to be keen and observant, especially when riding in a new neighborhood. Don’t just focus on the road alone, but everything else around you. Beware of other road users, pedestrians, and watch out for pets running towards the road, or even you. Someone will always want to be faster than you or cut you off without them realizing it. Having a keen eye will allow you to notice their intentions and act accordingly to avoid colliding with them. Always keep a few meters between you and the next rider or road user as well.
Anticipating the other person’s actions will also enable you to slow down or speed up to avoid an incident safely. There are also times when you will want to know what is happening around and behind you, especially if in a busy street, to avoid a speeding car.
2. Use Your Brakes Judiciously
Your braking habits can have a direct impact on how smooth or rough your ride will be. We, however, recommend braking judiciously based on the scenario and circumstances. In other words, you should be gentle yet firm with your brake to avoid under or overdoing it. Braking hard has several not-so-appealing consequences. For starters, squeezing your brakes hard and abruptly will cause the scooter to skid and even crash into the object or people in front.
The recommended way to handle brakes is to squeeze the brake paddle softly then lean backwards. Leaning backwards helps counter the inertia force, allowing you to come to a smooth stop. You also want to be careful with your front brakes too. You should never, at any point, lock the front brakes when in motion or at high speeds. This technique applies to motorbikes and bicycles as well.
3. Ride Defensively
A sensitive rider has a better chance of avoiding and preventing an accident. A defensive ride means you can see and interpret someone’s intentions and mistakes even before it happens. A good example is when/if approaching a blind spot, say a corner or a house, slowing down gives you a better chance to hit the brakes on time, which is unlike if you were riding fast. It also means you can see a reckless driver or rider from a distance, allowing you time to react accordingly.
A defensive rider will watch other road user’s actions and movements. This means he/she will notice when someone brakes suddenly or makes a swift turn unexpectedly. This is what many like to call the sixth sense when on the road. Although no one will notice your actions or even say a simple ‘thank you, simply riding cautiously will prevent many accidents and ensure you arrive at your destination safely.
4. Slow Down Before Turning Or Looking Back
Just as it is with riding a motorbike, make a habit of slowing down to safe speeds before turning or looking over your shoulder. Slowing down allows you to navigate corners easily and safely while reducing the risk of going through the bush, a crowd, or into the car in front. This habit will slowly grow in you, making you an even safer rider even on the busiest of roads.
Looking over your shoulder when riding at high speeds increases the risk of losing balance and falling over. The rule of thumb here is to slow down and preferably come to a dead stop before turning to look back or crossing the road. It is safer to look over your shoulder when the scooter isn’t moving than if you were in motion. It is even more dangerous if in moving traffic. The driver in front of you might slam on the brakes just as you turn to look back.
5. Always Keep Your Hands On The Handlebars
Overconfidence is the last thing you want when riding on a bike or e-scooter. Any form of distraction (especially the social media notification chime from your phone) should be avoided until it is safe or off the road. Getting your eyes off the road, even for a second, increases the risk of causing an accident. The risk of falling over, losing balance, or getting into the opposite lane is greater when you ride on one hand or are distracted by your phone. For this reason, you should at no given time take your hands off the handlebars, not until you are off the scooter.
The risk of one-arm riding your electric scooter, unlike the much larger mountain bike, is that scooters have a relatively small contact point with the road. The small wheels transmit and amplify everything under them, one of the reasons a bump will feel bigger than it is when on a scooter than on a bike. Ground clearance on your scooter is relatively small too, which again increases your risk of toppling over.
Riding on both hands enables one to make tiny adjustments to make the ride smoother and has a significant impact on how you keep the scooter balanced. Taking one hand off the handlebars means you won’t be correcting the imperfections as efficiently as you would with both hands. Maintaining control becomes even harder should the scooter tilt in the opposite direction. If you must use your phone, slow down to a complete stop, look for a safe place to pack/stop, then make the call or text. It is safe this way than falling over on the asphalt.
Things To Avoid When Riding A E-Scooter
Even the most careful of riders can make a mistake. Nevertheless, letting go of some habits (bad ones) can help reduce your risk of getting into an accident. Here are some of the practices you want to avoid when riding a scooter.
1. Riding with passengers
2. Doing tricks on the pavements and road
4. Trying to touch other vehicles while in motion
5. Running the red light
6. Blocking pedestrians at crossing points
7. Riding under the influence of drugs and alcohol
Riding electric scooters responsibly is the first step to staying safe and enjoying the benefits of owning one. You thus want to avoid the temptation of attempting tricks your friends might be doing. While you might not know this already, nasty accidents happen when you have an audience, especially when trying to impress someone with a silly e-scooter trick. We also are all too familiar with the consequences of walking and texting or rather riding and texting. The risk of running into a pole or a ditch is greater when you use your phone than if you just paid attention to where you were going. Your fate is in your hands from the moment you pick that e-scooter and go for a ride down the street or, to the mall. Follow the safety tips outlined above to stay safe and avoid getting into an accident.