Injuries when Riding a Scooter
By Dr. Sally Robinson and Dr. Keith Bly
usually waste no time in jumping on the latest fads in clothing,
jewelry and especially toys. So when it comes to buying your children
holiday and birthday presents, sometimes only "the" toy
now, the new Razor-style aluminum scooters with small, low-friction,
free-rolling wheels are definitely "it." Of course, they
bear no more resemblance to the scooter of the '50s than a modern
trail bike does to an old Schwinn. These new scooters are fast,
unstable and unforgiving.
scooters made their debut in late 1999, and accidents have kept
pace with sales. In May of 2000, that month's scooter-related injuries
seen in U.S. emergency rooms topped 500. In August, the one-month
total reached 4,000, and by September figures hit a high of 9,000-an
increase of almost 1,800 percent in five months.
of these accidents happened to children less than 8 years of age.
Ann Brown, chairwoman of the Consumer Products Safety Commission
(CPSC), stresses that scooters are much too dangerous for children
in this age group. For example, the body of the scooter is very
low to the ground, making it unable to accommodate irregularities
in pavement. As a result, raised areas in sidewalks can cause it
to drag, throwing the rider forward over the handle. Another problem
is that if the scooter hits a rough spot in the pavement, or a twig
or a rock, the tiny wheels are stopped dead or driven sideways,
again potentially causing the same type of accident.
a good number of these accidents amount to no more than road burns
and scrapes, fully one-third result in hand, wrist and arm fractures.
Hands and arms are the first line of protection when a person falls.
When they give way on pavement, statistics show that injuries to
the head and face are the second most common.
dilemma parents face is that the wrist guards designed for skaters
make it impossible for small hands to grasp the handlebars. This
could reduce kids' ability to control the scooters and thus actually
cause more injuries than the wrist guards prevent.
companies are making "new fashioned" scooters with hand
brakes and larger rubber tires that appear to be safer. You may
be able to convince your child to accept one of those, but not many
parents can successfully win a war of reason against a fad.
of the type of scooter you buy, the CPSC makes these recommendations:
Have your child wear a helmet that meets CPSC standards, along with
knee and elbow pads.
" Make sure children ride on smoothly paved surfaces away from
traffic. Avoid streets, as well as surfaces covered with water,
sand, gravel, leaves or dirt.
" Don't let children ride scooters at night.
of our job as parents is teaching our children skills they can use
later in life, such as good manners and self-control. In this way
we give them the best start possible. As parents we should also
remember that some fun activities can be quite dangerous. And often,
our children will think they are more fun because they are dangerous.
So be sure to also teach your children the value of protecting themselves
when engaging in sports and other physical activities-because getting
seriously hurt is never fun.
Sally Robinson is Professor of Pediatrics, and Dr. Keith Bly is
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics at the University of Texas Medical
Branch at Galveston Children's Hospital. For more information, visit: