How Did Motorized Scooters Get So Popular?
The motorized scooter has taken the United States by storm, and as of June 15, the scooters will be introduced to Chicago, Illinois. The scooters, designed as an eco-friendly alternative to cars and trucks, have also become a dangerous nuisance if not properly used. What may be a lot of fun at the moment can cause dangerous situations.
The goal of many technology start-ups is to solve problems and make life more efficient. One example that comes to mind is Uber and Lyft. The ridesharing apps purpose is to make getting from one destination to another seamless. Scooter companies aim to do the same, but by also cutting down on gas emissions from the number of cars and trucks on the road. Bird and Lime, two of the most well-known scooter companies have taken the United States by storm with that goal.
The two companies observed a nitch that could be filled – if getting to one place to another by car was seamless, why couldn’t motorized scooters do the same, but for shorter distances?
The way it works is pretty simple. Download the app, register your credit card, scan the QR code located on the handle of the scooter, and start moving. The app will track your location and calculate the cost by time and distance ridden. At the end of your trip, open the app and end the trip. The app will ask you to take a picture of the scooter so the company can ensure it is being left in a safe location, but that is a relatively easy step. Once completed, you can walk away and leave the scooter for the next person to ride. It is as simple as that.
But, the electric scooters have, and will likely to continue to have, their issues, too. The CDC even plans to conduct its first epidemiological scooter study in Austin, Texas due to the rise in injuries and emergency room visits related to electric scooter accidents.
Illinois Moped/ Motorized Scooter Laws
Electric scooters gained massive popularity in a short amount of time, and in order to keep up with demand, scooter companies often introduced the scooters to cities across the United States without permission from the local governing bodies. But, Chicago is one of the last to introduce the scooters. After seeing how troublesome the scooters could be, the City of Chicago waited until a proper plan could be in place before allowing them to hit the streets.
On June 15, a pilot program will go into effect. Rather than roll out thousands of scooters to all of Chicago and its suburbs, a minimum of 2,500 and a maximum of 3,500 scooters will be introduced to select areas. A large section of the Northwest, Southwest, and West sides are listed, including the neighborhoods of Austin, Avondale, Pilsen, and South Lawndale, but will exclude the Loop and communities along the lakefront according to the Chicago Tribune.
Scooters will be limited to speeds of 15 mph and strict guidelines on where they can be parked will be enforced. The pilot program will run from June 15 until October 15.
While specific vendors have not been chosen, any vendor can submit a proposal for inclusion in the program.
It is important to note that while electric scooters do not require special licensing, the City of Chicago may have local laws that state differently. The scooters can be ridden on public roads, and most cities such as Paris, ban scooters from riding on sidewalks.
There is no helmet law for individuals over the age of 18 in Chicago so as a scooter rider, you are not required to wear a helmet. However, it is strongly encouraged. Helmets can protect you from serious head injuries or trauma if you were to ever be in an accident.
What are the Types of Electric Scooters?
As Chicago gears up for the introduction of electric scooters, a number of popular vendors can, and most likely will, submit applications. Bird and Lime are the biggest nationally, but a number of rental electric scooter companies are gaining momentum in the market.
While the above companies are the most popular, electric scooters are not limited to only those listed. Keep an eye out for the companies that introduce their scooters during the Chicago pilot program.
How Can I Protect Myself From a Scooter Accident?
It is no secret that scooters can be incredibly dangerous. But, what are the most common types of accident cases? Learning about the causes of scooter accidents can help you avoid one in the future.
- Car accidents – A motor vehicle collision can cause significant injury to a scooter rider. A motorized scooter offers very little protection from an impact with a car. If an accident does occur, it is likely that head, neck or spinal, back injuries, paralysis, nerve damages, loss of limbs, or even death can occur.
- Bicycle accidents – Scooters are required to share the road with cars, but many forget that those roadways also include bicyclists. A collision with a bicycle can also cause substantial injury to both the scooter rider and the bicyclist, simply because of the lack of protection both transportation vehicles offer.
- Distracted driving – Yes, this is an issue that spans all categories of a motorized vehicle, including an electric scooter. Riding a scooter while intoxicated or checking a text, just as in a car, can cause an accident.
- Uneven pavement or potholes – Street maintenance is a vital part of scooter safety. If potholes and uneven streets are prevalent, the risk that a scooter rider will lose balance and crash increases drastically, resulting in injuries and possible damage to the scooter.
- Speeding – Scooters from most companies can go a maximum of 15 mph, but because of the lack of protection a scooter provides and the fact that many riders do not wear helmets, the speed can prove dangerous.
- Left-hand turns – Cities around the globe are banning electric scooters from sidewalks, meaning scooter riders must ride on the streets like bicyclists. However, that poses problems for scooters because it is difficult for drivers to see a scooter, let alone know if they are making a turn. Due to the lack of turn signals, left-hand turns can be especially dangerous for scooters. In this case, it is important to follow the same rules of the road bicyclists follow by signaling turns with hand motions and obeying traffic laws as normal.
While you cannot fully prevent an accident, there are certain steps you can take to protect yourself.
- Wear a helmet. The best thing you can do for yourself is to wear a helmet. In the event an accident does occur, a helmet can protect from head injuries.
- Do not drive distracted. While this should be obvious, even one alcoholic drink can impair your ability to navigate the streets on a scooter. Refrain from responding to a text message or taking a Snapchat. Just as distracted driving in a car can cause an accident, the same applies to a motorized scooter.
- Ride in designated bike lanes rather than in lanes meant for cars. The goal of designated bike lanes is to provide a safe space for scooters and bicycles to get around, without the interference of cars and trucks.
- Follow the rules of the road. Just as bikes must follow the same rules of the road as cars and truck, scooters must do so, too.
- Contact a Chicago scooter accident attorney. If an accident does occur, it is smart to contact an attorney to handle the claim on your behalf.
What Should I do if I am in a Chicago Scooter Accident?
There are many dangerous situations as mentioned above that can arise from the use of motorized scooters. If you find yourself the victim of a Chicago scooter accident, the first and most important thing you should do is to call 911 and get medical attention. Even if you do not feel injured, it is best to get checked out as some injuries can be internal and will not show symptoms until later on.
Once you have received medical attention, contact a Chicago scooter accident attorney. After an initial consultation, the lawyer you hire will walk you through each step of the civil lawsuit process – discovery, which is essentially the investigation part of the lawsuit, filing a claim, negotiating with the other parties involved in hopes of obtaining a settlement, and if settlement negotiations fail, going to trial on your behalf.
The purpose of a Chicago scooter accident attorney is to make the legal process as seamless as possible so you are able to receive the maximum amount of compensation needed to cover the damages, such as medical bills and emotional distress, you acquired as a result of the accident.
TorHoerman Law, Chicago Scooter Accident Attorney
Just like with any other type of personal injury accident, you have rights! If you have been injured from a scooter accident, contacting personal injury attorneys for a free consultation is in your best interest. Dealing with insurance companies or the City of Chicago government on your own can be overwhelming and stressful. An injury lawyer can handle a personal injury claim on your behalf, alleviating the stress and allowing you the time to recover from your accident.
At TorHoerman Law, our law firms specialize in personal injury accidents in Chicago. We are there to help you at every step of the way. Contact our firm to learn more about how a Chicago scooter accident attorney can help you.
For additional practice areas in Chicago, IL, see the following pages:
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