Scooter Fun And Safety

An estimated five million scooters were sold in the year 2000. Follow the scooter safety guidelines and a make riding a scooter a safe sport that can be enjoyed by all ages.

Scooters are one of the fastest selling 'toys' in the last couple years. Perhaps one reason that they have continued to sell so rapidly, is because they are fun for both beginners and advanced tricksters alike. Being relatively inexpensive and considered low maintenance (with no flat tires to change, scooters are also easy to store with quick fold-up capabilities) scooters remain popular for recreational activities, exercise, or just a great method of getting around!

An estimated five million scooters were sold in the year 2000. Of course the more scooters sold, the greater the chance of scooter injuries. According to the U.S. Product Safety Commission 26,000 scooter-related injuries were reported before the end of December 2000! 90 percent of those injuries happened to children 14 and under.

Although most of the injuries were minor the Consumer Product Safety Counsel also received reports of two deaths tied to scooter injuries. Yes, scooters can be dangerous when not used properly, but they can also be as safe as many other toys and play equipment used by the same age group of children.

In 1999 the U.S. Statistical Abstract reported 566,085 bike related injuries. Skateboard related injuries from that same year were numbered at 35,751. Doubling those statistics were playground equipment injuries at 73,933 accidents. If you are not sick of statistics yet, consider that there were 63,600 injuries on all-terrain vehicles as well!

HELMET SAFETY

What do all of these accident statistics tell consumers and child advocates? Put simply, it should be telling us to wear a helmet and follow the manufacturers safety rules! Over 15 states require helmets and many carry a hefty fine and scooter confiscation if you do not comply. Wearing a safety helmet can reduce the risk of head injury by 85 percent!

These statistics can help educated parents and consumers to realize that scooters are no more dangerous than other play equipment, if you follow basic safety guidelines. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission implemented new mandatory federal requirements for helmets in 1999. Helmets meeting the new standard will carry a label stating that they meet CPSC's new safety standard.



Some helmets made prior to the 1999 requirement may or may not meet the stringent requirement now imposed. Currently any bike helmets manufactured or even imported for sale in the United States are required to adequately protect against head injuries. Chinstraps are to be strong enough to prevent the helmet from coming off in a crash, collision, or fall. Child helmets designed for kids up to age five are also required to cover more of the critical areas of the child's head giving added protection to the brain and skull in the case of a crash.

First, children riding scooters should wear snug fitting helmets that do not allow movement of more than one inch in any direction. Helmets should be worn flat on top of the head and not tilted back at an angle. The helmet should not obstruct the riders view and chinstraps need to fit securely with the buckles or Velcro straps fastened. Added protective gear like elbow pads and kneepads are also a good idea when riding a scooter.

SCOOTER RULES OF RIDING

As with any equipment, children should not ride in the street. Parents can further safeguard their children by providing household riding rules of safety. Perhaps one rule might be to consider allowing scooter use only during daylight hours. Being larger than scooters, bikes generally have several reflectors to warn oncoming cars of their presence. Scooters are much harder to see. If they must ride at night make sure there are reflector stickers attached to the helmet or consider installing LED (light Emitting Diodes) wheels.

LED Wheels do not require batteries but generates light both during the day and at night. Maximum brightness is achieved at faster scooter speeds of 10 - 12 km/hr. and at night can be seen at a distance of 400 to 500 meters. Some products offer permanent glowing function in all directions while others have a phase control system that allows the wheels to flash separately as the wheels turn. LED wheels are surprisingly affordable and may be looked at as a safety investment and not just a trendy fashion accessory they initially started out as. LED wheels have some strong positive safety aspects in allowing cars and other riders and pedestrians a greater chance of recognizing an oncoming scooter.

Parents should help children to adjust the handlebars to fit the height of the child. Parents can also encourage kids to ride on smooth, hard surfaces clear of rock and debris. Potholes, soft shoulders, loose gravel, water and grass are all hazards to scooters.

Children, ages 5 - 8, should have adult supervision when operating a scooter, and scooters are not recommended for children under 4 years of age. Scooter safety and bike safety have many similarities. Remember to drive on the right side of sidewalks when they are available. If there are no sidewalks available and you are riding on the road, face oncoming traffic and keep to your far left.

Always cross at pedestrian crosswalks and watch the traffic signs. Because there are also many pedestrians on the sidewalks it helps to slow down and make eye contact with other bikers and walkers before passing them.

SCOOTERS IN THE NEWS

Although the media seems to have an over abundance of stories from the emergency room there are positive scooter stories that are note-worthy as well.

Paris postal workers are now experimenting with using scooters to deliver the mail more efficiently. If they are approved, workers will use scooters to serve over 3000 postal routes. Many scooter enthusiasts are also involved in scootering across the country along the Trans-American Trail. Perhaps we will even see scooter stunts included in upcoming World Olympic events.

© High Speed Ventures 2011