Many people think that electric bikes are great. They make it easier for individuals to get around, and you can get to where you need to be a lot quicker. However, as their popularity has increased, electric bikes have shown that their high speeds around motor vehicles and passengers can lead to disastrous and deadly accidents.
According to a report released last year by the United States Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC), there is an increasing amount of injuries and deaths among individuals who ride electric bikes, electric scooters, and hoverboards. Between 2017 and 2021, the CPSC reported a 127% spike in injuries. Out of more than 19,000 ER visits, there were 77,200 injuries and 48 fatalities attributed to these micromobility devices. The most common types of accidents with these devices were accidents involving motor vehicles, user errors and mistakes, and fires.
What is an electric bike?
Md. Code 11-117.1 defines an electric bike as “a vehicle that is designed to be operated by human power with assistance of an electric motor, is equipped with fully operable pedals, has two to three wheels, and has a motor with a rating of 750 watts or less.”
E-bikes are separated into three classes:
- Class 1: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and have a maximum assisted speed of 20 mph.
- Class 2: eBikes that also have a maximum speed of 20 mph, but are throttle-assisted.
- Class 3: eBikes that are pedal-assist only, with no throttle, and a maximum assisted speed of 28 mph.
Why are electric bikes so dangerous?
An article published by Reuters Health explains several reasons why electric bikes are so dangerous, including:
- Electric bikes are three times more likely to strike a pedestrian than traditional scooters and bicycles.
- Electric bike riders are more prone to internal injuries and hospitalizations than scooter and bicycle riders.
- Injuries among electric bike riders were typically more serious than other device riders.
With the number of electric bike riders continuously increasing, more riders as well as pedestrians are at risk of severe and catastrophic injuries.
Should children ride e-bikes?
In Maryland, children who are under the age of 16 cannot operate a Class 3 electric bike in Maryland, but they can ride as a passenger if the bike appropriately accommodates passengers.
Although many people think that electric bikes are safe for children, a recent article featured on WIRED explains the dangers of allowing your kids to ride these devices. The article explains that children under the age of 16 should never ride an electric bike and points to the fatal accident of a 12-year-old girl named Molly Steinsapir who died as a result of an electric bike accident in January 2021. Molly was riding on the back of her friend’s electric bike, which was fully equipped for two passengers. The two young girls (11 and 12) started going down a hill in their neighborhood. Molly was wearing a helmet when the crash occurred. However, she landed on the pavement very hard, leaving her unconscious. She experienced significant head injuries and never regained consciousness again. Within two weeks of the accident, Molly passed away.
What types of injuries usually result from electric bike accidents?
According to the CPSC, most of the injuries that resulted from electric bike accidents from 2017 to 2021 occurred to the arms, legs, neck, and head, consistent with an accident. However, there is also a risk of burn injuries from the batteries used to power these devices. Reuters points out that “17% of e-bike accident victims suffered internal injuries compared to about 7.5% for both powered scooters and pedal bikes,” data that is supported by analysis done in 2019.
- Crush injuries
- Cuts, lacerations, and punctures
- Facial, dental, and eye injuries
- Amputations or loss of limbs
- Shoulder injuries
- Abdominal and chest injuries
E-bike riders protective shields, airbags, and seat belts. Therefore, when an e-bike rider is involved in an accident while going over 20 mph, their injuries are most likely to be severe.
Does Maryland require a license to operate or drive an electric bike?
The state of Maryland does not require a special license to operate or drive an electric bike. Md. Code 21-1205.2 states that “electric bikes may be operated where bicycles are allowed to travel, including bike lanes.” Almost anyone can ride an electric bike to and from wherever they need to go in Maryland as long as there are bike lanes or areas where bicycles are allowed. However, every single person who rides on an electric bike must wear a helmet at all times.
If you or your child was hurt on an electric bike, Plaxen Adler Muncy, P.A. is here to protect your rights. Our Maryland e-bike accident lawyers have the knowledge and skills to build a strong case against the at-fault parties as well as ensure that you receive fair compensation to get back on your feet after the accident. Call our office or submit our contact form to schedule a meeting with our attorneys today. We also invite you to visit our multiple firm locations around the state of Maryland.