Segways are fun. Segways are popular. Segways also are dangerous, and you could suffer a serious injury while riding one.
A Segway is an electric-powered two-wheeled device for personal transport and holds only a rider and no passengers. As for how to ride a Segway, the rider balances while standing up and holding onto a chest-high handle or bar. The handle does not control speed or braking, only balance.
Much like an electric wheelchair, a Segway is considered a “personal motorized mobility device,” an “electric personal assistive mobility device” or a “personal assistive mobility device.” It’s also known as a personal transport, or PT.
A gyroscope helps to balance the vehicle, which moves in the direction that the rider leans. A Segway can travel as fast as 12.5 miles per hour. To stop, you lean backward and shift your weight, perhaps by straightening your arms, pulling back your shoulders and thrusting out your rear.
Launched in 2001, Segways are becoming increasingly popular for transportation in congested cities, particularly for recreational purposes or for tours. But they’re also used by businesses and even in security and law enforcement.
Though a Segway may offer a smooth ride, like any transportation device it can be involved in spills, crashes or accidents.
A Segway isn’t like any other form of transportation, such as a bicycle, and riding one takes practice. That’s why new riders are more likely to have Segway accidents than experienced riders, sometimes falling backward off of the device.
Also, a Segway isn’t as much in your own control as would be a bicycle. If a Segway malfunctions, perhaps with brakes not functioning, riders could be seriously injured.
Segways also will not jump over bumps in your path like a skateboard. A Segway can easily pass over a small bump, but for a large bump riders must steer around the impediment. If riders do not spot bumps ahead of them, they could hit them at full speed and fall.
Also, the Segway’s handle can whip upward and strike the rider in the face when it rebalances the device. Riders also can lose control of a Segway when it moves at its highest speeds. Segway controls are very sensitive, responding best to subtle moves by the rider. Sudden, jerky moves could cause a tumble.
Segway riders also can crash into other persons or vehicles when they appear unexpectedly. In other words, Segways can have accidents in about as many ways as a more conventional vehicle.
As a matter of fact, the inventor of Segway, Jimi Heselden, 62, died when his Segway plunged off of an 80-foot cliff.
Many YouTube videos also show Segway falls and accidents.
Riders who fall off of a Segway at a high speed or collide into another person, vehicle or object can suffer a variety of injuries, including:
Riders are advised to wear protective gear such as helmets, just as motorcycle and bicycle riders often do. It’s also advisable to wear protective coverings for the arms and hands. Otherwise, Segway accidents are apt to cause even worse injuries.
Technically, a Segway is considered a “consumer product” and is regulated by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission. Unlike other forms of motorized vehicles, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration does not regulate Segway use. Laws regarding Segways normally are enacted on the local and state levels.
Most states have enacted laws allowing use of a Segway on bike paths, sidewalks and some roadways, although some cities exclude the devices. Segways are allowed in Texas.
Segways can be used on private property. Segways’ owner has managed to lobby many cities and states to allow the devices to be used on public property.
Some people who have suffered Segway injuries have filed lawsuits against the seller or maker of the device.
The device’s manufacturer also issued a Segway recall in 2006 for over 23,000 units when it learned that a software defect could make the wheels suddenly reverse and go in the opposite direction.
If someone in your family was injured by riding a Segway, or perhaps was hurt when struck by a Segway ridden by someone else, notify Jim Adler & Associates. We’ll help you explore your chances for a successful injury claim or lawsuit, starting with a free case evaluation.
You may need a Segway accident lawyer or product liability attorney to steer you toward the proper moves for your case. Contact us today, and let us help.