Segway Dangers Highlighted in Medical Study, Just After Company Owner Dies in Crash

The Segway — a two-wheel, upright electric vehicle introduced in 2001 — often is ridden by police and security guards on patrol, and has become a common sight at such tourist areas as the National Mall in Washington, D.C.

But injuries suffered while riding the self-balancing vehicle, though little studied, can be serious, according to new research by a George Washington University team. The risks were underscored over the weekend when the company’s owner, James Heselden, 62, died after apparently driving a Segway off a cliff in rugged terrain in Northern England, according to the Telegraph.

The new study, published Tuesday by the Annals of Emergency Medicine, focused on the types of injuries suffered in accidents involving the vehicle, which is more formally known as the Segway Personal Transporter or Segway PT.

The researchers examined the records of 41 people hurt in Segway accidents who sought emergency room treament at the George Washington University Hospital. The researchers found that all 41 patients were injured after falling off the vehicles, usually after they struck objects. Although none of the patients was killed, 10 were admitted to the hospital. Seven cases of severe or moderate injuries were recorded, including four people sent to the intensive care unit for traumatic brain injuries.

Among the 31 patients who were discharged after receiving emergency room treatment, 10 suffered fractures, including two cases of head fractures.

Although the study was small, the researchers said they were surprised by the severity of the injuries.

“Segways are pretty new to the marketplace and it’s often only as products become popular that the risks involved become apparent,” Mary Pat McKay, one of the study’s authors, said in a news release. She and her co-authors called on the Consumer Product Safety Commission to start collecting information on Segway injuries, and urged Segway riders to wear helmets — something that currently is not required by law in the District of Columbia, where the study was conducted.

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6 comments to “Segway Dangers Highlighted in Medical Study, Just After Company Owner Dies in Crash”

  1. William Jackson

    Oh and yes, I will wear a helmet!

  2. William Jackson

    In writing this I know I will be talked about for not having been on a Segway. However, I am looking forward to riding one, and I believe it will be fun. Understanding how the thing works will be quite helpful in controling the vehicle and not falling. When I started driving I had to not only learn the rules of the road, and understand defensive driving, but had to know how the car works in a variety of situations(rain,snow, pot holes, curbs, different types of driveways,etc.). If a car hits an immovable object I may go through the window. Driving a new technological vehicle puts me in the frame of mind that if I get on such a machine that I am not well trained to drive, I will have at least one accident. The more familiar one is with whatever the situation, the better. I will be 70 next year and have no fear. If I do have an accident it will be because I did or did not do something properly. I plan to ride with the knowledge that I must pay attention the same as if driving a car.

  3. Kay Young

    Yesterday my brother, while vacationing alone in Washington, DC, had a terrible accident while riding a segway. He is in the hospital right now after having his shattered shoulder replaced and his fractured knee operated on. He is goign to have to endure a long, long road of recovery.I agree, these things are too dangerous for recreational fun. PLEASE urge 60 minutes to do a show on the dangers before someone else gets hurt!

  4. Mary Arthur

    I fractured my pelvis two weeks ago from falling off Segway in Italy. I wish a national news program like 60 Minutes would take this on and get this issue into the national spotlight.

  5. Tammy M.

    I fell off of a segway while on vacation. I hit my fore head on the pavement, received 6 stitches and I also fractured my elbow. My wheel ran into something and it stopped right now! I kept moving and hit the pavement. Thank goodness I was only moving slowly. I hate to think how much worse it could have been. Please research them before you go on one. I will never ride one again.

  6. Wayne Cooper

    I just broke my ankle on my Segway yesterday.
    I was going up an incline on my farm, when it suddenly turned 90 degrees.
    I don’t know if one wheel stopped, turning the Segway sideways.
    It happened very fast.

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