What You Need To Know Before Riding an E-Scooter
By now, you’ve probably seen a few people cruise by on an electric scooter. They may have been a few teenagers on their way to a friend’s house, somebody using the vehicle as a new way to commute to work, or maybe it was even yourself doing the riding. E-scooters have become common in many cities across the United States, with industry leaders Bird and Lime reporting millions of rides so far.
What Are E-scooters?
But, while e-scooters might be revving up in terms of popularity, new technology brings new complications and new concerns.
E-scooters are not to be confused with mopeds or Vespa-like scooters, which allow users to sit, and travel at relatively high speeds. Rather, e-scooters are operated while standing up and often cannot go faster than 15 to 20 mph. Users get started by downloading an app that will help them find a nearby e-scooter. They can then unlock the vehicle for an initial starting fee with total payment being calculated according to either distance traveled or how long the user rides the scooter.
E-scooters are usually dockless and operate like dockless bike-sharing programs with users able to find and park the vehicles in a wide variety of locations. E-scooters often do not require the operator to have a driver’s license.
Know the Risks and Rules
While operating an e-scooter, users are required to obey state and local traffic laws, but these can vary greatly depending on where you live or where you’re riding. Some jurisdictions have implemented laws pertaining specifically to e-scooters that limit where they can be ridden and how fast they can travel, so make sure you are familiar with the local rules before you take a ride.
Even if you are certain that you’re not breaking any laws, operating any type of motor vehicle, even an e-scooter, brings a certain amount of risk. E-scooters might not travel as fast as cars, but even at speeds as low as 15 mph, an accident involving a rider, pedestrians or other motor vehicles can lead to serious injuries including broken bones, head injuries and soft-tissue injuries.
If you plan to use an e-scooter, consider these safety tips before hopping on:
- Wear a helmet: Helmet use is encouraged by e-scooter companies. Wearing a helmet could mean the difference between life and death if you get into an accident.
- Take a test ride: Just because you may have ridden a non-motorized scooter in the past doesn’t mean that you’ll be a master at operating an e-scooter. It’s a good idea to practice turning, starting, stopping and maneuvering around obstacles in an open space or empty parking lot before you ride in an area with behicle or foot traffic.
- Avoid headphones: While operating an e-scooter, it’s important to be able to hear potential hazards. Make sure that you’re aware of what’s going on nearby and can hear other vehicles and pedestrians around you.
- Take your time: Especially when going downhill, e-scooters can pick up speed very quickly. Don’t hesitate to use your brakes.
- Don’t drink and scoot: Using an e-scooter may seem like an attractive option for getting home from the bar, but operating any vehicle while under the influence is dangerous. Operating an e-scooter while intoxicated puts you and others at serious risk.
Where Does the Finger Point?
With e-scooters still being a relatively new form of transportation, many insurance companies are still inconclusive on how coverage and liability applies to accidents and injuries caused or suffered by riders.
You may be riding at your own risk when you step onto a scooter, so it’s important to know whether you’re covered under your own insurance policies. Your homeowners and auto insurance policies may have been created before the rise of e-scooters, so there may be no mention of the devices.
What Does Your Insurance Cover?
A standard homeowner policy does not cover motor vehicles, and standard personal auto insurance policies exclude liability coverage for vehicles with less than four wheels—e-scooters generally have two. Motorcycle insurance also might not cover e-scooters. Personal liability umbrella insurance policies provide coverage for incidents excluded from underlying insurance policies, and thus may provide coverage for e-scooters. It is important to know the specific details of your homeowners and auto policies before you can count on coverage for an injury or accident involving an e-scooter. Contact GDI Insurance Agency, Inc. today for more information
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