Electric Scooter Accident Issues in Atlanta
The laws regarding e-scooters in Atlanta and the state of Georgia are limited. Although the city of Atlanta passed ordinances governing how riders must store e-scooters accompanied by a few other regulations, there is little guidance from either the city or the state in terms of liability for accidents, riders’ responsibility, or riders’ bill of rights, so to speak. The lack of a legal framework to guide riders and e-scooter companies alike have left a vacuum. Notwithstanding, the law will catch up — it always does — eventually.
The companies operating e-scooter programs offer some suggestions on how riders should conduct themselves. They suggest wearing a helmet, although wearing one is optional. Also, they suggest riders should unencumber themselves by leaving backpacks and bags behind, ride without passengers, ride while sober, and ride without distractions. These are merely suggestions and cannot be enforced by law enforcement officers. However, these suggestions could be used against a rider in a claim for damages if the rider ignores those suggestions.
E-scooters can travel as fast as 15 miles per hour. The top speed of e-scooters simultaneously endangers pedestrians as well as riders. Georgia’s rules of the road outlaw riding motorized vehicles on sidewalks. However, riders are often faced with the conundrum of riding illegally on the sidewalk or endangering themselves by trying to integrate into the traffic flow. The speed of the e-scooter on a sidewalk can overwhelm the rider when approaching a pedestrian. Conversely, the e-scooter is too slow to ride alongside cars, trucks, and SUVs safely. In either scenario, someone could get badly hurt or killed.
The design of e-scooters may be an area that is ripe for dispute. A small electric motor drives the back wheel. A throttle on the handlebar controls the speed and operates like a motorcycle throttle. The brake works like a bicycle brake. The rider pulls the handle in toward the handlebar to slow and stop the e-scooter. Riders who panic or are inexperienced e-scooter riders can easily get confused and mistake one operation for the other, pull the brake too hard and flip over the handlebars, or misjudge how long stopping an e-scooter takes.
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