Electric scooters, or e-scooters have rapidly gained in popularity across the United States. Thousands of e-scooters from leading companies like Bird and Lime now dot the urban areas across major cities. These micro-mobility devices have quickly become an alternate traveling medium over short urban distances. However, e-scooters have come with many concerns, most notably the safety of the pedestrians and the riders. Personal injury attorneys are seeing a rise in these types of cases.
On average, every 20 out of 100,000 e-scooter rides result in injuries. As these micro-vehicles are dockless, they can be parked literally anywhere. This has led many riders to simply toss them down when they reach their destination. The random distribution of the e-scooters across cities has also caused many to question their utility.
The Launch of E-Scooters in Alabama
Back in the summer of 2018, e-scooters arrived in force across different cities of Alabama. A large number of e-scooters from JUMP, Lime and Bird hit the roads in Birmingham, Homewood, Auburn and Tuscaloosa. However, this was followed by a string of injuries and accidents related to the e-scooters.
A major reason behind this was simply the fact that most cities weren’t able to facilitate e-scooters properly. The infrastructure was not in place, the drivers lacked adequate information on the subject and the e-scooter users had no idea how to ride safely. This prompted many cities across Alabama to ban e-scooters.
Alabama Law Allowing E-Scooters
In July this year, the Alabama Legislature approved a bill that legalized the use of e-scooters. This has prompted hopes that e-scooters may finally stage a comeback in Alabama cities. The bill was signed by Governor Kay Ivey and has the support of representatives from several cities. With this bill now legally allowing the return of e-scooters, it has been claimed that at least 10 Alabama cities now plan to oversee the launch of e-scooters.
However, a crucial section of the bill notes that cities have the authority to determine how to regulate e-scooters. This also means that local authorities can ban an e-scooter if they deem that such a ban is essential for the safety of the people.
This right has already been practiced by the Huntsville City Council which rejected the use of e-scooters in the city. The development came more than a month after the bill was passed by the state legislature. And it shows that many cities are still reluctant to allow this new mode of transportation on their streets.
Legal Requirements for E-Scooters in Alabama
Although the state law has legalized e-scooters in Alabama, you must meet certain legal requirements to be able to ride them. You must have a Class M license to legally qualify for riding an e-scooter. This license is restricted to persons 14 years and older. So riders below the age of 14 are not legally allowed to operate an e-scooter in Alabama.
The helmet law also applies to e-scooters as these vehicles fall under the definition of ‘electric bike.’ As per these laws, you must wear a protective bicycle helmet when operating an e-scooter if you are below the age of 16. For those above 16, wearing a helmet is not a requirement.
E-scooters riders are also required to drive at the right side of the roads. The use of e-scooters on bike paths or sidewalks is prohibited.
E-scooter Safety Concerns
With the legalization of e-scooters in Alabama, we can expect more cities in the state to adopt them. However, it is also expected that cities will attempt to locally regulate the use of e-scooters through new laws. This is simply because safety concerns over the use of e-scooters still remain.
If you choose to ride an e-scooter, it is a good idea to take suitable safety measures. Wearing a helmet, for instance, is one of the best safety precautions as it can save you from any head injuries in the event of a crash. You should also keep an eye on the rest of the traffic as many drivers are not yet experienced in dealing with e-scooters. It’s also a good idea to test run an e-scooter in an empty space before you take it on your first ride.
Contact Our Birmingham Personal Injury Attorneys
If you have been injured in an e-scooter accident in Birmingham, you may be able to seek compensatory damages. If the e-scooter was faulty, the damages are filed against the manufacturing company. If the crash took place due to the negligence of another driver, you may file a claim against that driver. A compensation claim helps you recover damages to cover your losses such as injury and property damage. Contact Hare, Wynn, Newell & Newton today to discuss your e-scooter injury with our personal injury attorneys.