An Alabama woman and mother of two young children was taken off life support Friday after being hit by a vehicle while riding an electric scooter on the streets of midtown Atlanta. The incident, which left Amber Ford, 34, with serious injuries, is being investigated as a fatality hit-and-run.
Ford’s husband, Justin Ford, said they were riding the e-scooters back to their hotel after their out-of-town date when she was struck by a dark sedan driven by a woman who did not slow down after striking his wife. Justin Ford said they were driving in the street after people complained about them riding on the sidewalk.
Ford’s death marks the third e-scooter fatality in Atlanta since the city got the scooters last year. The first fatality occurred in May when a man was struck by an SUV while leaving a MARTA station. The second occurred last month when a man fell while riding next to a CobbLinc bus and was run over.
Atlanta has been struggling with how to deal with the influx of the popular electric scooters since shortly after the scooters arrived in May 2018. At that time, there were few regulations but mounting concerns. As a result, in January, the Atlanta City Council approved legislation requiring scooter companies to obtain permits and submit monthly data regarding their use. Recently, city officials announced e-scooter riders would be require to drive on the street instead of the sidewalk or face fines up to $1,000.
Following the July e-scooter fatality, protesters hit the streets of Atlanta calling for safer places to ride bikes and e-scooters. That prompted Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms to sign an executive order suspending the issuing of new permits for e-scooters. The order does not affect the nine companies that already have permits to operate in the city.
While data on scooter-related injuries is limited, an observation study conducted by researchers with the University of California Los Angeles found that 40% of all electric scooter injuries observed involved head trauma, followed by fractures (31.7%) and contusions, sprains, and lacerations without fracture (27.7%).
People injured on or by scooters are finding it difficult to determine just who is liable for their injuries. A spectrum of scenarios involving e-scooter accidents can blur liability and compound the legal complications. E-scooter companies collect a lot of data from their devices and the people who rent them, including geo-tracking location, timestamps, and the user’s personal and payment information. But they may not be forthcoming in releasing their customers’ information, and it is unclear what laws may apply to requiring them to do so.