It’s no secret that the global market for personal electric vehicles is growing very rapidly. Riders all over the world are discovering that these vehicles are not only cost effective and empowering, they are also a lot of fun to ride. Electric scooters, unicycles, and skateboards are growing in popularity among riders of all ages and experience levels. In addition, riders are demanding more refined products with greater performance characteristics including higher top speed, quicker acceleration, and improved handling.
However, there are two effects happening simultaneously that are cause for concern. First, the market is expanding beyond a passionate group of experienced enthusiasts to a broader group of riders, many of whom have little or no experience riding electric vehicles. Second, as manufacturers seek to differentiate their products in every way possible, increasing the top speed has been a common upgrade for many new vehicles. And yet, pairing new and inexperienced riders with ever increasing top speeds is a potentially dangerous combination.
I’ve wanted to ride a motorized skateboard ever since I saw the actor Sean Astin riding a gas powered skateboard to school in a movie when I was a young kid. I am an action sports enthusiast, as well as a lifelong rider of skateboards, kite boards, wake boards, and almost every other kind of board. I am also a YouTuber who has ridden and reviewed many different kinds of electric skateboards. So, I consider myself to be an “experienced rider.” However, even experienced riders like me are not immune to the dangers posed by electric vehicles.
Recently I was filming a YouTube video where I was riding an electric skateboard capable of reaching 30+ mph speeds, which is not unusual for me. However, I made some crucial mistakes before the board ever started moving which resulted in a bad crash. First, I was relatively unfamiliar with the way the board performed, having only ridden it for a few minutes prior. Second, the board was set up way too “loose” for me and my riding style. And finally, I was riding on a road that I was a relatively unfamiliar with. Had I eliminated these mistakes beforehand I most likely never would have crashed. However, once I hit 30 mph and hit a couple of bumps the board began to “wobble” and I crashed at high speed. While it was a brutal crash, I was very fortunate that my injuries were limited to bruising and scrapes (“road rash”), which were very painful but not long term serious, and a dislocated shoulder, which was able to be relocated easily by a doctor shortly after my crash. Since I was filming at the time I had high quality footage of the crash, which I analyze in this detailed video so that others could learn from my mistakes.
As I reflected on my crash, I realized there are two key points that all riders should consider. The first point is to ride defensively and alertly. In addition, you should be very familiar with both the board/vehicle and the road before trying to reach high speeds and push performance limits. In this next video I talk more about these specific points, as well as other riding and safety tips.
The second point is to wear safety gear, which I address directly in both videos. I see many people riding without any safety gear at all. In my opinion, everyone should ride with a helmet (full face helmets are even better) and gloves, even if just cruising at modest speeds. Hitting unexpected obstacles at just 10-15 mph can result in serious injury, especially if you aren’t wearing a helmet. If you plan to ride at higher speeds like 20-30+ mph I recommend knee and elbow pads, as well as various body armor solutions that I discuss in my crash video. Many of these safety layers can be easily worn discretely underneath clothes and others will not even know you are wearing them. While no amount of armor can protect you from every injury, it can make a huge difference in the event of a crash.
So, who should care about all of this? The answer is EVERYONE. Safety is an issue for the entire industry, including both manufacturers and riders. The obvious reason is personal safety for riders. Some people may not think it is “cool” to wear safety gear, but being in the hospital isn’t “cool” either. Plus, stylish gear including helmets and body armor is available and can actually create cool rider profiles that express individuality while also keeping you safe. Furthermore, if certain riders get seriously injured without safety gear it could result in tighter laws and restrictions, adding to the perception that these vehicles are just too dangerous. Additional restrictions would affect where we can ride and how we can enjoy these vehicles, as well as suppress demand and hurt manufacturers too. So, everyone has a vested interest in protecting what we love to do.
We all want to improve our individual mobility in an efficient way, as well as to inject a little adrenaline and fun into every ride. So protect yourself, and in turn the rest of the industry, by taking a few extra safety precautions. Ride safely, have fun, and be well!
About the author
John Paul is an American investor, entrepreneur and YouTuber who has spent many years funding and developing various new businesses. He has a passion for action sports, including electric vehicles, kitesurfing, and other activities. You can follow John on social media: