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Time to scoot?

Make sure kids take safety along for the ride

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Photo: Scott Nolen

Scooters offer kids some fun and a feeling of independence as they head out of the house. But with both manual and electric scooters becoming more common, it’s important not to leave safety behind.

“There’s more and more scooters on the road these days, and we’re seeing more and more injuries in the ER,” said Yomna Nassef, an emergency room physician in New York City.

Recent data from the Consumer Product Safety Commission shows that ER visits related to e-scooters climbed to 25,400 in 2020. That’s a 229.9% jump from 2017, when 7,700 were reported.

Here are some tips to help make sure your child’s next scooter ride is a safe one.

Ready or not?

When are kids old enough to ride a scooter?

Carter Clement is a pediatric orthopedic surgeon in New Orleans and member of the Pediatric Orthopaedic Society of North America.

He recommends age 8 as a good starting point, because lack of balance and coordination in kids younger than that “really makes falls pretty much inevitable.”

Still, some kids learn at an accelerated pace, so Clement offers this litmus test: “If you’re thinking of bending that rule for the 8-year cutoff and your kid seems pretty coordinated, I think if they are not yet comfortable and safe riding a bike, then it is almost certainly not time to introduce a scooter.”

Check it out

Before your kid jumps on, check scooters for damage. The CSPC recommends looking at the handlebars, brakes, throttle, lights, tires, cables and frame. Make sure all are damage-free to prevent your child from losing control while riding. Bells and horns need to work, too.

Then, your child should be comfortable using the brakes and familiar with the proper stopping distance, which may vary by scooter.

And don’t forget: All riders should wear a helmet.

“This is really the easiest thing that everyone can do to avoid a serious injury,” Nassef said. “Make sure that your helmet is properly fitted.” Find tips at nhtsa.gov/document/fitting-your-bike-helmet.

The National Safety Council recommends scooter riders wear sturdy, close-toed shoes – and consider using knee and elbow pads as well as wrist guards.

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