(TNS) — One scooter company is hoping you love safety as much as selfies.
Bird, which has 4,500 stand-up e-scooters in Austin, has launched an initiative in its markets called "Helmet Selfie" to promote safety — an issue that has dogged scooter companies across the country and resulted in multiple lawsuits.
The selfie initiative will first be rolled out in Washington, D.C., the company said. Riders will be able to submit photos of themselves wearing a helmet after a Bird scooter trip to the company for credits toward their next ride, the company said.
Austin officials have told Bird that the city is interested in being part of the selfie initiative, Transportation Department spokesman Jacob Barrett said. Bird has not announced if or when "Helmet Selfie" will launch in Austin, Barrett said.
"To help eliminate preventable injuries, and increase usage, we are further incentivizing riders with Helmet Selfie to better protect themselves from the dangers posed by cars and poor or aging infrastructure," Bird said.
In Austin, only bicyclists and riders using rented scooters or e-bikes who are 17 years old or younger are required to wear a helmet when using the devices, the city said.
Dell Seton Medical Center doctors have said scooter and bike riders should wear helmets, elbow pads, knee pads and other protective gear when using the devices.
Scooter crashes where the rider isn't wearing a helmet can result in serious head injuries that require weeks of rehabilitation, Dr. Christopher Ziebell, the hospital's emergency department medical director, told the Statesman last year.
Earlier this year, the city's health and transportation departments released a study of injuries related to scooters that was done with the help of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The study looked at 190 reports of scooter-related injuries made between Sept. 5 and Nov. 30, 2018 and found that most incidents were preventable.
Only one of the 190 scooter riders that got hurt was wearing a helmet, the study said. Bird cited the study's helmet data as one of the reasons for "Helmet Selfie."
The company said that even though they have given away 75,000 free helmets in the last 18 months, it has not increased use of the protective gear.
The CDC said the study found "a high proportion of e-scooter related injuries involved potentially preventable risk factors, such as lack of helmet use or motor vehicle interaction."
Bird was one of the first scooter companies to launch in Austin in spring 2018.
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