Avoiding Dockless Scooter Accidents May Be an Uphill Battle in Nashville

Finger pointing over rising scooter related injuries and limited regulations and enforcement are a recipe for disaster on Nashville roads and sidewalks

It sure is hard to escape the lure of Nashville’s newest craze:  electric dockless scooters.  Even the least adventurous of individuals can’t ignore the merits of this new mobility alternative. The use of the scooters can help to relieve traffic congestion, reduce carbon emissions, produce lots of added revenue for the city, and it can provide an economical way to get around for tourists and locals alike.   

But hold your horse power! Unfortunately, it’s not all good news.  These speedy street rockets and their riders have also been the center of controversy across the city.

Vanderbilt reports at least 1 scooter related injury per day and 1 serious scooter injury per month.  Injuries to scooter riders and the pedestrians they harm look much the same.  ERs are seeing lots of:

  • Head injuries
  • Facial Fractures
  • Broken Bones
  • Contusions and Abrasions
  • Elbow and Shoulder Injuries
  • Knee and Ankle injuries

Sadly, helmet use, though recommended for scooter use, is not required at this point.  “People are having severe head injuries that are going to change their life forever,” says Vanderbilt Trauma Medical Director, Dr. Oscar  Guillamondegui. The Doctor believes that the dramatic rise in scooter related injuries to riders and pedestrians can be blamed on simple math.  The somewhat unregulated explosion of scooter companies allowed to open up shop in Nashville means that there are more scooters, and more scooters, mean more injuries.

Litter can be lethal

Despite current legislation and regulations regarding use, thousands of complaints continue to pour in about piles of poorly parked scooters blocking public access on sidewalks and left askew on the private property of businesses and individuals.  They litter the landscape, creating a city-wide eyesore and a danger to wheelchair-bound pedestrians who may not be able to maneuver on the around the, and as a result, are forced into the roadway.

E-Scooter Injuries on Nashville Sidewalks

Drinking while scootering is a thing

Scootering under the influence has become a real epidemic, and sadly, a somewhat socially accepted practice as a faster, cheaper alternative to taking a more costly Uber or Lyft home. Drunken ridership has become so much of a problem that Lime, one of downtown scooter companies is investigating ways to detect and disable ridership for intoxicated riders when they begin to drive scooters erratically.

Scooter riders are ignoring traffic laws

In December of 2018, Nashville experienced two back to back serious scooter related crashes downtown caused by scooter riders disobeying traffic signals.  WSMV Channel 4 Nashville News reports that according to trauma surgeons at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, they’ve seen an average of one life-altering injury per month since the electric scooter explosion in Nashville.

When you ride a scooter in Nashville, it’s considered much like driving a vehicle, or a bicycle.   If there is a bike lane or a wide enough space in between the curb and the lane most riders will take advantage of it before venturing out into the vehicle lane.  However, like a bicycle, riding a scooter along with traffic is permitted.  Again, as with riding a bicycle, riding in on a sidewalk in a business district (though it’s still poorly enforced), is not permitted and is in violation of metro code.  This is because these vehicles on sidewalks creates a dangerous situation for both the riders and non-motoring pedestrians.

Still unsure of the rules?  Here’s everything you need to know about:

Nashville dockless scooter and E-scooter rules:

  1. You must be at least 18 years old and hold a valid driver’s license

  2. Only one person may ride each scooter at a time.

  3. Scooters may not be ridden on the sidewalk within a business district.  This includes all of downtown, along Gallatin Pike (or similar) with businesses, and many tourist hot spots in East Nashville.

  4. In areas where sidewalk-riding is permitted (few and far in between), riders must always yield to pedestrians and give them warning when passing them.According to code, warnings must be audible, using one’s voice or scooter horn/bell.

  5. Riders must obey the rules of the road, the same as any other vehicle on the street.

  6. Scooters must be parked upright and not in a right-of-way.

  7. Drinking alcohol and riding a scooter is against the law.  The legal limit for being considered intoxicated is the same as with riding/driving any other type of “vehicle,” according to Tennessee law.

  8. At this point in June of 2019, it is not yet required but highly encouraged to wear a helmet when riding a dockless scooter or e-scooter, though that may soon change.

Careless  riders or Nashville’s infrastructure to blame?

Many scooter advocates have blamed Nashville lagging infrastructure for contributing to the rise in pedestrian and vehicle related crashes caused by scooter riders.  They blame Nashville’s lack of available bike lanes, and hi-rise construction zones blocking riders from safe passage and forcing them out into the streets with cars or back onto the sidewalks with pedestrians.

It may not be the safest choice to ride along with vehicles, scooter riders are in fact allowed to ride in the vehicle lanes along with traffic.  And while all scooter related accidents are not always caused by the scooter rider, there are hundreds of reports documenting inattentiveness, unpredictability, and carelessness on behalf of riders as the proximate cause of incidents.   On any given day in Nashville, riders can be seen speeding, riding recklessly, and weaving in and out of traffic and back onto the sidewalks to avoid traffic lights.

Malfunctioning scooters

Finally, there have been a handful of injury reports in which an electric scooter has powered down or stopped suddenly while enroute to its destination chucking its rider off the scooter and onto the concrete or roadway.

Rocky McElhaney Law Firm E-Scooter Attorneys are Here to Help

Were you injured after riding a dockless scooter?  Did someone riding a dockless scooter injure you or a family member?  At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we have only one mission: to help injury victims get justice.

We realize that because scooters are so new to Nashville that understanding liability and how to go about making a claim can be very complicated and confusing.  Scooter injury victims need a knowledgeable advocate who can see the claim from all sides and fight for the maximum compensation available.  Scooter injury victims need Rocky McElhaney Law Firm.

If you or a loved one has lost their life as a result of a scooter-related wreck or pedestrian accident, we are here to help.  We can answer all your questions and help lay out your options so you can make the best decision about how to move forward.  We always offer free consultations and there are never any fees until we win your case.  Call 615-425-2500 or use our contact formWe fight for you!