July 15, 2008

Scooter Accidents Rise With Gas Prices, Temperatures

By Nicquel Terry, The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

Jul. 15--They're popular, gas-friendly and stylish.

But doctors say the increasing number on the road is likely to mean more people coming into emergency rooms.

They're motorized scooters.

Health officials say numbers on individual scooter accidents often aren't tracked, but Mount Carmel West physician Jeffrey Thurston said he's observed a spike in injuries from scooter accidents. Thurston, an internal-

medicine physician, said he has assisted more patients from scooter accidents recently than in previous years.

This leads "me to think we have more accident victims this year overall," Thurston said.

Thurston's observation comes in light of the Saturday night motor-scooter accident that left E. Gordon Gee's son-in-law with life-threatening injuries and Gee's daughter, Rebekah, hospitalized.

Dr. Allan Moore, 31, was operating the couple's 2001 Vespa when it collided with a sport-utility vehicle in suburban Philadelphia. He was in critical condition yesterday in the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania with abdominal and head injuries. His wife and passenger, Dr. Rebekah Gee, 32, was in stable condition with a broken leg and other injuries.

Five scooter-accident victims have come into Grant Medical Center in Columbus this year, three of those this month, hospital spokesman Colin Yoder said. In all of 2007, five patients from scooter accidents were treated.

There is no breakdown by OSU Medical Center of its patients from scooter accidents; it combines that number with motorcycle- and ATV-accident patients.

But Steve Steinberg, a trauma surgeon at OSU Medical Center, said he expects the number of patients from scooter accidents to climb through fall.

Steinberg said rising gas prices and relatively warm weather this summer have made scooters desirable for many commuters.

"We are already over halfway to our volume (of patients on those types of vehicles) last year," Steinberg said. "We are going to be well over last year's (final) numbers."

The majority of OSU Medical Center patients in scooter accidents this year were not wearing helmets and therefore suffered more serious injuries, Steinberg said.

"Some accidents are avoidable by paying attention to what's going on around you."

Steinberg also suggested that scooter riders wear helmets and avoid alcohol.

They also can take motorcycle-safety courses through the Ohio Department of Public Safety.

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