Skateboards and scooters

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What are skateboards and scooters?

Skateboards and foot scooters, usually known as scooters, have become increasingly popular in the last few years in Australia. These recreational items can travel at fast speeds and are often used as a method of transport for children in urban areas.

How may a child be injured?

Falls

  • Most injuries from scooters and skateboards occur from falls and collisions with fixed objects or pedestrians. This is usually the result of losing control. Children may lose control as a result of a sudden or unexpected obstacle in their riding path.
  • Children may lose control of their scooter or skateboard because they cannot stop. Skateboards do not have brakes and scooters have limited braking capacity due to their small wheels.

Cuts, bruises, fractures and friction burns

  • Children may sustain cuts, bruises, fractures and/or friction burns as a result of a crash/fall.

Motor vehicle accidents

  • Serious injuries and fatalities can also result when children on the road are hit by motor vehicles.

How common are these injuries

About one-quarter (24%) of children aged 5-14 years in Australia reported roller skating or skate boarding.1

In Victoria there was an average of 225 children aged 0-14 years admitted to hospital as a result of falls from skateboards from 2010-2013. In the same time period, there was an average of 241 admissions for scooters. Between 2006/07 – 2011/12, skateboard admissions increased by 179% and scooters increased by 268%.2 There are no recent published statistics available for NSW.

At greatest risk are young children, learners and experienced users performing tricks at high speed.

The upper limb and wrist are the most common areas of injury. Other areas include elbows, knees and the head.

Contributing factors to injuries are:

  • speed
  • obstacles
  • being unable to stop
  • steep slopes
  • hard landing surfaces
  • failure to wear protective equipment, such as helmets, knee pads, elbow pads, mouth guards and wrist guards.

Is there a Law or Australian Standard for skateboards or scooters?

There are no Australian Standards for skateboards or scooters. Helmets are not a legal requirement for rollerblades and roller skates, but it is highly recommended to purchase a helmet that meets the Australian Standard for bicycle helmets (AS/NZS 2063:2008).3

Road laws for skaters

NSW Transport advises that skateboards and scooters are best used in designated areas, such as ramps and skate parks. Skateboards may be used on footpaths, regardless of the age of the user, unless there are signs that say they are not to be used in those areas.

Riders should keep to the left when on footpaths and give way to others on the path.

Skateboards and scooters can only be used on minor roads (those with no lane lines marked) that have a maximum speed limit of 50km during daylight hours.4

As powered scooters are unable to be registered, they can only be used on private land.4

Effective protective equipment for skateboards and scooters

 

Image source: argos.co.uk

Remember:

  • Children under five years of age should not use of skateboards and scooters.  Children between the ages of 6-10 years should always be supervised when skateboarding.5
  • If you are using a second-hand skateboard or scooter, make sure that it is stable and in good condition.
  • Ensure learners have a safe area to practice.
  • Supervision of learners is recommended until the child is skilled to use the skateboard /scooter safely.
  • Do not allow children to skate down steep slopes, in traffic or poor light.
  • Wear bright or reflective clothing.
  • Young children, learners and experienced users performing tricks are at highest risk of injury.
  • Helmets, wrist, elbow and knee guards should be worn.
  • Use of designated skate parks and ramps is recommended.
  • Avoid skating in wet or rainy conditions.
  • When riding on the footpath, be aware of pedestrians, especially the elderly.
  • Check for products that have been recalled (www.recalls.gov.au) prior to buying or borrowing an item for use with your child.

 

References

1. Australian Bureau of Statistics. (2006, December 15). 4901.0 Children's participation in cultural and leisure activities, Australia, April 2006. Retrieved January 14, 2016, from Australian Bureau of Statistics: http://www.abs.gov.au/AUSSTATS/abs@.nsf/Lookup/4901.0Main+Features1Apr%202006

2. Cassell, E., & Claperton, A. (2014). Hazard (Edition No. 78): Preventing serious fall injury in children (2): Falls involving furniture, skateboards and furniture. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from Victorian Injury Sruveillance Unit (VISU): http://www.monash.edu/__data/assets/pdf_file/0009/218493/haz78.pdf

3.Australian Competition and Consumer Commission. (n.d.). Product Safety Australia. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from Bicycle Helmets: http://www.productsafety.gov.au/content/index.phtml/itemId/974624

4. NSW Transport (2015, August 24). NSW Centre for Road Safety Staying Safe - Skateboards, foot scooters and rollerblades: The law. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from Transport NSW: http://roadsafety.transport.nsw.gov.au/stayingsafe/pedestrians/skateboardsfootscootersandrollerblades/

5.Smartplay. (12, March 2015). Preventing skateboarding injuries. Retrieved January 11, 2016, from Smartplay: http://www.smartplay.com.au/Content/Pub/ContentDetail.asp?lngContentID=790