CNN reports that a 62-year old owner and creator of the Segway brand electronic scooter died this past Sunday when the scooter he was riding swerved off of an English countryside cliff and into the River Wharfe. He had been testing a new all-terrain version of the two-wheeled recreational vehicle with a group of British investors when the fatal Segway injury occurred.
Just after the death was announced, a research article in the Annals of Emergency Medicine about Segway risks and related injuries was released. Electronic medical injury reports involving the vehicle were studied by researchers from the department of emergency medicine at George Washington University from April 2005 until November 2008. The studied found that the injuries resulting from Segway use are on the rise.
The lead author of the study, Dr. Mary Pat McKay said that Segway injuries are difficult to find and study because a specific injury code in electronic medical records has yet to be created. She said that out of the cases researchers were able to find, the injuries tended to be severe including traumatic brain injuries landing patients in intensive care.
Many of the injuries studied happened when a rider momentarily lost control and struck an immobile object when they fell from the vehicle. A rider’s inability to break their fall is partially due to the design of the product. The steering mechanism prevents riders from being able to put their hands out in front of them when the vehicle tips over.
Despite injuries, the Segway vehicle is becoming commonly used for recreation, by law enforcement and for guided tours. McKay cautions riders to wear helmets and pay closer attention to the road in front of them.