Background: Electric bicycles (E-bikes) are an increasingly popular means of transport, and have been designed for a higher speed comparable to that of small motorcycles. Accident statistics show that E-bikes are increasingly involved in traffic accidents. To test the hypothesis of whether accidents involving E-bikes bear more resemblance to motorcycle accidents than conventional bicyclists, this study evaluates the injury pattern and severity of E-bike injuries in direct comparison to injuries involving motorcycle and bicycle accidents. Methods: In this retrospective cohort study, the data of 1796 patients who were treated at a Level I Trauma Center between 2009 and 2018 due to traffic accident, involving bicycles, E-bikes or motorcycles, were evaluated and compared with regard to injury patterns and injury severity. Accident victims treated as inpatients at least 16 years of age or older were included in this study. Pillion passengers and outpatients were excluded. Results: The following distribution was found in the individual groups: 67 E-bike, 1141 bicycle and 588 motorcycle accidents. The injury pattern of E-bikers resembled that of bicyclists much more than that of motorcyclists. The patients with E-bike accidents were almost 14 years older and had a higher incidence of moderate traumatic brain injuries than patients with bicycle accidents, in spite of the fact that E-bike riders were nearly twice as likely to wear a helmet as compared to bicycle riders. The rate of pelvic injuries in E-bike accidents was twice as high compared with bicycle accidents, whereas the rate of upper extremity injuries was higher following bicycle accidents. Conclusion:
The overall E-bike injury pattern is similar to that of cyclists. The differences in the injury pattern to motorcycle accidents could be due to the higher speeds at the time of the accident, the different protection and vehicle architecture. What is striking, however, is the higher age and the increased craniocerebral trauma of the E-bikers involved in accidents compared to the cyclists. We speculate that older and untrained people who have a slower reaction time and less control over the E-bike could benefit from head protection or practical courses similar to motorcyclists.
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