Segway Scooters are self-balancing personal transporters. The scooter runs on two wheels and has a battery operated electric motor. It also comes with specialized software that provides the self balancing aspect. The operator of the scooter controls the speed by standing upright and leaning forward and the direction by tilting the handles to the left or the right. The maximum speed for the scooter is 12.5 miles per hour. The Segway Scooter was first introduced in the US in December 2001 and are currently being used both for leisure and professional use. They are used by sightseeing tours, police departments, airport security, the military, and even emergency response officials.
The problem with the Segway Scooter is that they are not considered motor vehicles in the District of Columbia. Local regulations state that they are allowed to be operated on bicycle lanes and/or sidewalks and an operator is not required to wear a helmet. It is because of these regulations that traumatic head injuries are occurring.
A study conducted at the George Washington University Hospital Emergency Department in the District of Columbia included cases from April 1, 2005 through November 30, 2009 showed that there were 44 hospital visits that involved Segway Scooter operators. Out of these 44 patients, only 7 were wearing helmets. The cases involved operators who unintentionally struck immobile objects. These objects included park benches, signposts, light poles and trees. The cases increased dramatically over the 3 year study. There were 5 cases reported in 2005, 3 in 2006, 8 in 2007, and 25 in 2008. 10 of the 44 patients were admitted (24.4%). Four patients were admitted to the Intensive Care Unit and suffered traumatic brain injuries. The average hospital stay was 2 days, with a 2 to 7 day range. Hospital charges ranged from $25,733 to $69,139 for admitted patients. Other injuries reported were facial, clavicular, rib, tibial and ankle fractures.
Traumatic brain injuries are one of the leading causes of death as well as permanent disabilities world wide. Research shows that 1.4 to 1.7 million people suffer traumatic brain injuries each year.