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Are Segways Safe?

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By Jason Beahm on September 28, 2010 10:03 AM

The death of the owner of Segway has renewed questions into whether the vehicles are safe. Jim Heselden, 62, bought the company less than a year ago from Dean Kamen. Heselden died after falling off a the side of a cliff and dropping 30 feet into a river. It was a sudden and tragic death that happened while Kamen was riding an all-terrain country version of a Segway off road.

A recent study found that Segway users are injured at a substantial rate and victims have suffered massive facial injuries, brain injuries and broken collar bones, ribs, ankles and arms. It has experts asking, are Segways safe?

The Segway may seem cool, but there's nothing cool about a head injury," says Mary Pat McKay, MD, MPH, of George Washington University who co-authored a new study on Segway-related injuries, reports. "One quarter of the patients who came to our emergency department with Segway injuries were admitted to the hospital." McKay noted that their emergency room admission rate was higher for people injured riding Segway scooter than pedestrians hit by cars.

It is not known whether Heselden was wearing a helmet at the time of his accident. The study noted that only 17% of the patients admitted for Segway accidents were wearing helmets at the time of their injury. All Segway riders should wear helmets and "pay close attention to what is in front of and around them when riding," McKay said.

Segway said that the company was mourning the loss of its president and stood behind the safety of its product.

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