TAMPA (WFLA) — As St. Petersburg gives shareable e-scooters the green light, Tampa is still sorting out how to make its own program safer across the bay.
Each month, Tampa General Hospital’s emergency department compiles a “scooter injury” report for the Tampa Police Department.
8 On Your Side obtained those numbers and found scooter-related injuries went by up more than 700-percent after scooters hit the streets in late May.
A man died at TGH at the end of June after being struck by a semi-truck while riding a scooter.
While the “scooter-related” data in the hospital’s records encompasses all sorts of scooters, from kids’ kick scooters to electric wheelchairs, emergency department chief Dr. David Wein says the sharp uptick is directly related to the e-scooters.
“Broken ankles, sprained ankles, wrist fractures, wrist injuries,” Wein listed as the frequent offenders in his ER.
Most of the injuries aren’t major but it’s the head trauma cases that concern Wein.
“The helmet aspect is a big problem,” Wein said. “Most people don’t walk around downtown with a helmet under them, and then decide to get on a scooter and put it on.”
All the scooter companies operating in Tampa require helmets in their rider terms of service. However, just like a bike, it’s not illegal in Florida for adults to ride without a helmet.
Like Tampa, St. Petersburg plans to launch a one-year scooter pilot program sometime next year. Unlike Tampa, the city hopes to mitigate some of those injuries with restrictions that include no scooting on sidewalks and a 10 p.m. curfew.
“Your balance isn’t the best after you’ve had a couple beers,” Dr. Wein said, acknowledging that a number of the scooter injuries his ER sees are also alcohol-related.
The Center for Urban Transportation Research at USF is also collecting information about the impact of scooters in Tampa during the pilot period. St. Pete city officials have said they hope CUTR will do the same when they launch scooters.