Bird has launched a new in-app safety check feature meant to keep users under the influence from unlocking its scooter rentals at night. The new feature, called Safe Start, will ask riders attempting to unlock a Bird rental scooter between 10PM and 4AM local time to type in a keyword within the app. That will serve as verification that they're sober enough to be able to handle a micro-electric vehicle. Those the feature deems to be under the influence will be advised to take other forms of transportation, such as taxis and ride-hailing vehicles.
Scooter-related injuries have been on the rise these past few years due to the increasing number of companies renting the vehicles out. Back in 2018, Los Angeles had its first conviction for scooting under the influence after a Bird rider knocked a pedestrian to the ground and then tested for blood alcohol levels more than thrice the legal limit. According to a CNBC report from 2019, the University of San Diego Medical Center admitted 42 patients for e-scooter related injuries within that year. Forty-eight percent of the patients had blood alcohol levels above the legal limit, and 52 percent overall tested for illicit substances.
Rebecca Hahn, Chief Corporate Social Responsibility Officer at Bird, said in a statement:
"Late night, scooters and other micro-electric vehicles provide a valuable mobility resource for third-shift workers, bar and restaurant staff and many others. Safe Start is designed to help keep them and all members of the community safe on the streets by encouraging responsible riding and keeping scooters available for those who truly need them."
Safe Start is part of the company's safety initiatives, which also include a Skid Detection feature that looks out for irresponsible riding to warn users and even ban them if needed. The new feature is currently being tested in the US, but Bird says it will roll out everywhere the company operates throughout the summer.