28 Apr How to Ride Your Electric Skateboard Safely
Some people think that electric skateboards are one of the funniest inventions of the 21st century.
Others think that they are exploding death traps waiting to engulf you in flames.
So is riding an electric skateboard really that risky?
Short answer: yes and no.
But mostly no – electric skateboards are not overly dangerous to ride. So long as you know what you’re doing.
In this article, we’re going to cover how electric skateboards might be dangerous and what you can do to mitigate any risks. We’ll share some real-world scenarios as well as some easy, actionable tips that you can start using almost immediately.
Regardless if you’re just getting started or are already a veteran, you’ll learn something new about electric longboard safety and will be better equipped the next time you hit the streets.
Are electric skateboards dangerous?
The thing that people more or less focus on when it comes to electric skateboard safety is the additional power they have.
Electric skateboards enable even the most rookie of riders to go fast, sometimes too fast. When someone is going faster than they ought to they also have a harder time maintaining control. Thus, it would be very easy for a novice to get in over their head, or an accident, if they didn’t know what they were doing.
And that’s where a lot of electric skateboard safety concerns come from: new riders get too confident or go too fast too soon and then end up in dangerous situations.
But even experienced riders can end up facedown on the pavement. Unexpected board malfunctions, sudden shifts in traffic, and just pure chance can all lead to an accident.
All of that being said though, using an electric skateboard is really no different than using any other modern piece of equipment. Yes, they require some extra skill and common sense to use but once you know what you’re doing, it’s no more dangerous than any other activity.
When and where do electric skateboard accidents occur
Electric skateboard accidents can happen anytime or anywhere but are more likely given certain conditions:
- Rough or irregular terrain – Bumps, debris, and cracks can all be serious obstacles for riders. Every time you hit one of these, the path or direction of the board is affected. At higher speeds, that path is exponentially altered, sometimes to the point of swerving or completely flipping. Smooth, even terrain is always ideal.
- Wet surfaces – Wet surfaces offer A LOT less friction, which means your board will slip and slide more easily. Controlling a board that is sliding uncontrollably is very difficult and failing to do so could result in a wipeout.
- Traffic – This includes pedestrians, cars, bicycle riders, other riders, and even animals i.e. pets. These moving targets can behave erratically and be hard to size up when riding. Frankly, it’s really difficult to know when someone is going to turn or accelerate, and misgauging them can lead to accidents. Dogs, in particular, can be really unpredictable – they have been known to lunge out without notice and give riders a real scare.
- Downhill – You can accelerate really, really fast on even the gentlest of slopes. And once you start picking up speed, it’s very hard to slow down. If you’ve ever felt “the wobbles” while riding downhill, you know what helplessness feels like too. If by chance a high-speed downhill run should end badly, injuries are likely.
- Dimly-lit environments – If you can’t see what’s in front of you, how do you know something isn’t there? Riding an electric skateboard at night has a whole other host of problems and not just because you can see less – other people can’t see you either.
Electric skateboard batteries deserve extra attention. These are arguably the most volatile component of the board and have been known to spontaneously combust (under extreme stress).
Granted, this is a rare phenomenon, but it still needs to be addressed anyway because many people are concerned.
Electric skateboards spontaneously exploding has been all over the news and has led to a slew of new laws and regulations. Thanks to a few poorly-made and irresponsible products (looking at you cheap hoverboards) we now have difficulty doing things like flying with our electric skateboards even.
If and when an electric skateboard catches fire, it’s most likely because of a bad battery. Sometimes it’s the fault of the manufacturers – as was the case with Boosted a few years ago – or something caused the battery to be compromised, like a serious blow. Charging a battery that is broken can then trigger combustion.
Despite all of the ways that an e-board can explode, it’s still very unlikely to happen. It’s more of a sensationalized story that you hear in the news than a regular occurrence.
If your electric board does burst into flames, there’s nothing you can really do about it besides let it burn. Best to use a fire extinguisher or call the fire department if it’s a big one.
Common electric skateboard injuries
At the moment, unfortunately, there are not a ton of statistics out there regarding electric boards specifically.
But if statistics from regular skateboard riding are any indication, these are the injuries that you should be aware of:
- The extremities – This includes wrists, ankles, knees, and shoulders, and mostly occur as sprains, fractures, and breaks. Almost three-quarters of all skateboard injuries involved an extremity, most likely after an awkward or incorrect fall. Cuts and bruises are also common (practically a rite of passage, in fact).
- Head – Though less common, serious damage can occur to the head. Broken jawbones and noses were the most common injury. In serious cases, concussions, skull fractures, and blunt trauma occurred. Overall though, head injuries are uncommon and most happen to young riders below the age of 10.
We can confidently assume that the injuries caused by electric skateboards are not dissimilar to those caused by regular ones. In fact, they could potentially be worse as higher speeds increase the chances of serious or aggravated injuries.
Again, it’s the fact that electric skateboards enable beginning riders to go so fast from the outset that raises extra concern. Remedying the situation is just a matter of practicing on the board and respecting it.
Top Electric Skateboard Safety Tips
Here are ten ways you can stay safe while riding an electric skateboard, day or night.
Wear a helmet
The grand majority of electric skateboard fatalities happen because of serious head and brain injuries. A rider takes a serious dive or gets hit by a car and goes headfirst into the ground – we don’t need to paint the picture any further.
We’ve said it a million times and will continue to say it: ALWAYS wear a helmet when riding. This needs to be repeated because a lot of riders, regardless of their experience, still insist on going out without one.
You want to hear a crazy, semi-related statistic too? Nearly 97% of all bike-related fatalities involved someone not wearing a helmet. That number speaks volumes of their importance.
Wear the right protective gear
In addition to a good helmet, electric skateboarders might also want to consider wearing some additional accessories to protect those sensitive spots we mentioned before, namely the extremities.
Common pieces of protective gear include elbow, knee, and wrist pads. Having these should help protect against nasty breaks and sprains.
If you don’t want to be caught dead wearing bulky pads like these, then at least consider a heavier padded jacket. There are brands that make jackets with padding already sewn into the lining for the sake of conspicuousness. No one will be able to tell the difference.
Know how to ride your electric board
A lot of electric skateboard accidents happen because the rider just doesn’t know what they’re doing. They go too fast, lose control, ride in the wrong places, or end up in a situation that should’ve never been in in the first place.
Knowing how to ride your electric skateboard or longboard will drastically reduce the chances of you getting into an accident. Being able to brake properly, maintaining balance on your board, and knowing when and how to accelerate properly are crucial to avoiding disaster.
If you’re just getting into e-boarding, then take some serious time to practice in the beginning. Ride around in secure areas, like parking lots, and really get to know your board. Once you feel comfortable enough while riding, then move on to busier and more hectic areas.
Check your e-board periodically
It’s a nightmare scenario for skateboard owners: you’re riding around, not a care in the world and confident everything is well, when all of a sudden an old, rusty bearing seizes up, stopping the board dead in its tracks and sending you flying.
To be fair, the above doesn’t happen very often – a bearing would have to be real abused before failing like that. But it, in addition to other board failures, does still happen.
Check on individual components of your board every once in a while, just to make sure everything is still in working order. Make sure the bearings are smooth, the wheels are flush, and the trucks are nice and tight.
Avoid dangerous areas or terrain
The city is obviously one potentially hectic place to be riding your board. Combine traffic, hordes of pedestrians, construction, and the odd deteriorating road, and you get a recipe for disaster.
But it is still possible to ride your electric skateboard in the city! You just need to know how to avoid the common problems:
- Avoid riding in heavy vehicular traffic.
- Plan your route ahead of time to skip busy areas and rough roads. (Those who commute with e-boards do this often.)
- Stick to bike lanes if it is permitted.
- Know the rules of the road.
Electric skateboard accidents can still occur outside the city, of course. Gnarly hills, off-road trails, and unlit country roads are all places that riders should still be cautious around.
Learn how to fall properly
Yes, there is a right way to eat shit, and, quite frankly, we should all know how to do it. Because the difference between a good fall and a bad fall can be HUGE.
For example, being thrown from your board and putting your hands out (naturally) to catch your fall is a good way to end up with a broken wrist or arm.
Leading with your shoulder, on the other hand, and rolling into the fall is a good way to walk away unscathed (and look like a badass too).
To learn how to fall properly, you will need to practice the motions. Don’t just read a few guides on the web – read them and then do the falls live in order to build muscle memory. Here’s a quick video to start out with:
Be a “defensive” skater
It pays to be more cautious than usual when riding your board. For one thing, you’re out in the open and are much more vulnerable than you would be in a car. For another, you never know what can happen on the city streets.
Consider as well that drivers who are normally used to regular, slower skaters may not be used to electric longboard riders going 20+ MPH either. If they think you might be in one place when in fact you’re in another, an accident might be in store.
Keep your head on swivel when riding and avoid taking risks. If you see someone or something moving strangely, slow down and wait till the coast is clear. A lot of times, it’s just a matter of trusting your gut.
This also means cutting out distractions. For example, try not to listen to music so you can instead focus on the sounds happening around you. Screeching tires? Someone just hit the brakes, which means you should too.
Use the proper lighting
Some newer electric skateboard models, like Linky, come pre-equipped with some sort of front-facing light that helps illuminate the street. So when you’re shopping for your next board, keep an eye out for this feature.
If your board doesn’t include built-in lights, you can also install some yourself. ShredLights is a popular brand that makes mountable lighting not only for boards but also for helmets.
As mentioned before though, it’s not just the case that you need to see the road. Others need to be able to see you as well. If you ride your electric skateboard a lot at night, consider packing and wearing some reflective garments. A vest barely weighs anything, can fit in any backpack, and will make you much more visible.
Don’t drink and ride
As funny as it was to see my college friends face-planting on their boards after a party, there were probably one too many close calls. Yes, keg stands are always fun, but not twelve stitches in your lip on the way home.
Regardless of whether you’re an electric longboarder in college or an adult who just tied one-off after work, it just isn’t worth riding drunk. You need to have all of your faculties when riding, especially coordination, which we all know is the first thing to go after drinking.
If you’ve had one too many, just hitch a ride with someone else. And by that, we don’t mean riding tandem with another tipsy friend on their board, as amusing as that might be to watch. Get a rideshare or find a sober driver.
Be careful with other inexperienced riders
We’ve mentioned several times now that riding an electric skateboard safely is often a matter of experience i.e. not being ready to ride yet.
But that doesn’t just go for you, the board owner, but also other people around you.
If someone wants to ride your electric skateboard and you know they’re probably going to fall on their ass, don’t let them ride it. Or, at the very least, keep a close eye on them so they don’t hurt themselves too badly. In particular, children should be treated with extra caution.
Be careful when riding alongside shaky skateboarders for that matter as well. It just takes one wipeout to ruin the formation and cause a pileup of epic proportions.
When it comes to electric skateboard safety, the single most useful piece of advice we can give is: know what you’re doing. That means not just knowing how to ride your e-board but also knowing where you are and what the circumstances are.
If it’s dark, rainy, and the streets are mad with traffic and pedestrians, maybe think twice about taking your electric skateboard out for a spin. At the very least, be extra vigilant.
If, on the other hand, you have access to a safe corridor or route and the conditions are favorable – e.g. nice roads, good weather, plenty of time – then, by all means, ride as much as you like!
Be aware of the situation as well as your own capabilities and you shouldn’t have a problem riding your electric skateboard safely.
Do you have a helpful anecdote or gnarly close call story you’d like to share? Please share it with us in the comment section below!