Lime, a major international electric scooter manufacturer, is warning riders to exercise extra caution when operating its two-wheeled devices. According to The Washington Post, the warning came about after testing revealed "sudden, excessive braking," which could result in injuries to users.
The company said a technical "bug" is behind the problems, which usually showed up when the scooter was ridden downhill at top speed. Lime responded to the danger by issuing remote software updates to fix the glitch, which it said has reduced the number of scooter braking incidents.
However, as The Washington Post stated, this situation is just the latest development in Lime's recent history of injury-plagued scooters. Several months earlier, The Washington Post had reported that the scooters were breaking apart in use, injuring riders all over the country. And in California, when it was discovered that some scooters included batteries with the potential to catch fire, thousands of scooters were immediately pulled off the road.
"Tight squeeze" recommended
In its most recent warning to scooter riders, Lime advised users to give the brakes a "tight squeeze" before riding, to assure that the brakes are operating correctly.
The U.S. is not the only country impacted by the scooter braking issue. The Denver Post reported that injuries due to malfunctioning brakes have also been reported in Switzerland and New Zealand. In New Zealand, two cities acted to ban the scooters as a temporary measure following a significant number of incidents. Lime said that in Auckland alone, 155 experiences of irregular braking had been encountered, 30 of which resulted in injuries. The New Zealand Herald even published an account of one victim who allegedly broke his jaw when the Lime scooter he was riding suddenly stopped without warning, throwing him off the front of the device.
In Switzerland, Lime had to pull hundreds of scooters from two cities after a string of injuries caused by locking brakes. According to a report in Forbes, Lime followed up by investigating whether the problem resulted from a software update that caused the scooters to reboot mid-ride, triggering the anti-theft braking system.
Forbes said Lime could not comment on whether the problems in New Zealand and Switzerland were related, nor could they say that similar issues were occurring in other countries.
Additional incidents in the news.
The Washington Post reported that in February, a Texas man filed a negligence suit against Lime after he landed in the street when his scooter's wheels suddenly locked in place. Jeremiah Mahoney, 38, is seeking $10,000 in damages. Quoted in the Austin American Statesman, Mahoney said the incident "could have malfunctioned under any circumstance at any location, and who knows what could have happened?" He added that he felt it was a "roll of the dice."
Another Texas man, Jacoby Stoneking of Dallas, died after falling off a Lime scooter in September 2019 and receiving blunt force head injuries. One more fatality happened that same month when a Maryland man, Carlos Sanchez-Martin, was struck and killed by an SUV while he was riding a scooter.
In an op-ed piece published by the New Zealand Herald, Mitchell Price, Lime's director of government affairs and strategy, took an apologetic tone, describing a mechanical problem that was not only dangerous, but also tough to fix.
Price wrote, "Our teams have been working around the clock to rigorously assess our fleet while working to pinpoint the cause of this issue and rectify it swiftly." He also added that Lime had hired a world-renowned, multi-disciplinary engineering and scientific consulting firm to help get to the root of the problem.
The Washington Post also reported that Lime is working with consumer protection agencies around the world to make sure its devices met stringent safety requirements. The U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission is one such organization, The Washington Post noted. Lime began working with the U.S. agency in November, after The Post broke the story that their scooters had been falling apart for months while people were riding them. As the Post said, the company kept renting out its structurally unsound scooters despite warnings from company mechanics and other workers.
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