While California just made it legal for adults to ride electric scooters without a helmet, the wildly popular vehicle has had its first confirmed fatality.
The Washington Post reports it was confirmed that Jacoby Stoneking, who died on Sept. 4, was not wearing a helmet while riding a Lime e-scooter in Dallas. Stoneking took the scooter home from a restaurant on Sept. 1, but called a friend saying he had injured his foot and asked him to call him a Lyft. When the Lyft driver arrived, Stoneking was unresponsive, lying near a broken Lime scooter. Stoneking’s death, caused by blunt force injuries to the head, was ruled an accident by Dallas authorities. Lime says it will investigate the accident and work with the family.
Injuries and emergency room visits tied to e-scooters has been on the rise since mobility services have put more than 65,000 e-scooters on U.S. streets. The Washington Post interviewed ER doctors in seven cities and found that a spike in severe accidents occurred after the scooters were set loose. “The devices may look like toys but inflict the same degree of harm as any other motorized vehicle on the road, only without having to comply with safety regulations,” Peter Holley wrote.
California Gov. Jerry Brown made it legal Wednesday for adults to ride motorized scooters going up to 35 mph without helmets. Electric scooter service Bird was a big proponent of the law. Bird became the fastest startup to reach a $2 billion valuation in its last round of funding this summer.
People don’t want to look dorky by carrying around a helmet, so they’re likely to go without when hopping on one of the ubiquitous scooters. Yesterday, about a year after the e-scooter craze started, Bird announced it had reached 10 million rides on its scooters, and Lime said it had reached 11.5 million rides. But the services have also faced bans from cities that consider the dockless scooters dangerous nuisances.