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Time to scoot?

Make sure kids take safety along for the ride

Photo: Scott Nolen

Make it a safe ride

Whether the scooter is foot-powered or electric, kids need to know how to use the steering and brakes – and they should never speed, the American College of Emergency Physicians says.

Adds Nassef: “Getting used to the scooter at lower speeds before you start speeding up is important.”

Clement said the optimal surface for children is a flat, paved or tightly compacted dirt area in a park or somewhere motor vehicles aren’t allowed.

Sidewalks are an option, “but I’ve also seen multiple kids getting hit by cars backing out of driveways, so sidewalks certainly do make me nervous,” Clement said.

When it comes to riding e-scooters on public roads, local laws vary. The ACEP reminds riders to be on the lookout for road hazards such as small bumps, potholes and loose gravel, as well as pedestrians. If kids are riding in a more populated area, they need to be mindful of traffic and parked cars as well.

Clement suggests young riders master the use of manual scooters before trying electric ones. “All sorts of new safety questions come into concern because you can move faster, you can move more easily, it’s easier to get yourself somewhere where there are cars and other dangers,” he said. “So, not only for physical boundaries but also just for mental reasons, I think it’s good to be older. An electric scooter should certainly be introduced after you feel like your child is very safe and comfortable and solid on the rules of a manual scooter.”

On the move

Remind kids what the NSC says about maneuvering a scooter:

  • Keep both hands on the handlebars.
  • Avoid distractions.
  • Only one person per scooter.
  • No stunts.

The CPSC says jumps and bumps may damage the scooter and create an injury risk for the rider. Teach kids to slow down and lean back when they see a bump in the path.

On an e-scooter? Remember that it’s small and quiet, so drivers in larger vehicles and pedestrians may not see or hear you. Riders should use their scooter’s bell or horn to alert others and refrain from making abrupt, unpredictable movements.

And, of course, kids are more likely to ride safely when adults supervise. “The best-case scenario is that they’re always within sight of their parents,” Clement said. “That’s the number one way to avoid any surprises.”

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