Segway Boss Jimi Heselden Dies on Segway: Are Segways Safe?

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Dr. Bobby Kapur at the Baylor College of Medicine's Section of Emergency Medicine in Houston, Texas, said he saw a few Segway-related injuries in the past when he worked at a hospital in Washington, D.C. He said he has not yet seen any similar cases in Houston. But he added that he believes better safety regulations should be adopted.

"I believe Segways should be in the same class as bicycles -- or even mopeds -- and users should be required to wear helmets," Kapur said. "People achieve speeds around 13 miles per hour, which is comparable to a medium-range speed on a bicycle."

The gyroscopic technology employed by the Segways make it less likely that a rider will fall from the machine, but doctors said such falls are still possible.

"While the Segway is a very well engineered and stable transport, one can still fall from it, and the additional height means additional force to the head," said Dr. Stephen Epstein of the Department of Emergency Medicine at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston.

"Segways present a unique injury potential, as demonstrated by the infamous George W. Bush spill," said Dr. Ryan Stanton, director of the emergency department at the University of Kentucky Medical Center in Lexington. "They function like a pendulum with forward and backward rotation at the axle, with rapid starts and stops resulting in a rotatory fall with the head suffering the most speed and force at impact."

The former president fell off a Segway in 2003 at his family estate in Kennebunkport, Maine. Bush was able to leap from the machine, landing uninjured on his feet.

Other ER doctors said more needs to be known before effective safety standards can be introduced.

"I am in favor of helmets in general, but I am unaware of the extent of brain injury in patients who suffer injuries while riding Segways," said Dr. Allen Walker of the Pediatric Emergency Medicine Department at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore. "While it stands to reason that helmets may reduce injuries in such events, there is, to my knowledge, no data that bears on that issue.

Doctors Debate Helmet Laws for Segways

"So, in general, helmets are good; whether they would be effective in Segway injuries likely needs to be studied."

Dailida said Segway's stance on helmet use is consistent with that of the authors of the new study.

"Anybody riding a Segway should be be aware of their surroundings and wear a helmet," he said. "We would urge [the authors] to extend that recommendation to all personal transportation devices, such as bicycles, skateboards and scooters."

As for Heselden's death, Dailida said the company owner had been a Segway owner for years before he bought out the company and was aware of the device's risks and the importance of proper protective equipment.

Associated Press reports contributed to this report.

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