UAE police to probe reckless e-scooter use amid concerns over injuries

The devices have grown in popularity in recent years but reports of reckless behaviour are being investigated

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A task force has been set up to help ensure the safe use of electric scooters across the UAE.

A committee comprising members of the Federal Traffic Council was formed in response to reports of reckless behaviour from riders.

The scooters have grown in popularity across the globe in recent years and have been viewed as an eco-friendly "last mile" alternative to cars.

The Federal Traffic Council does not have ultimate decision-making powers in each emirate, but can make recommendations based on its findings.

It's essential we organise the use of such vehicles through legislation that will protect members of the public
Brig Ahmed Al Naqbi, Federal Traffic Council

This new committee will work closely with relevant authorities to develop plans to regulate their use.

“Forming the committee followed observations of e-scooters being used in unsafe places and of riders disturbing other road users,” said Brig Ahmed Al Naqbi, director of the traffic and patrols department at Ras Al Khaimah Police.

“It's essential we organise the use of such vehicles through legislation that will protect members of the public.

“Their use should be restricted to the tracks dedicated for that purpose and users must wear protective gear, including helmets and reflective jackets, especially when driving at night.”

Dubai began a year-long trial of e-scooter rentals in five districts in October, 2020. The resulting half a million trips were used to assess how e-scooters can be safely integrated into the emirate's transport system.

The scheme, led by the emirate's Roads and Transport Authority, is being extended to 10 areas of the emirate this year, including City Walk and Palm Jumeirah.

Riders cannot use rental e-scooters outside of designated trial zones, police have said.

E-scooters were banned from public parks in Dubai in May last year. Dubai Municipality said the move was to protect other park users.

Citywide, e-scooter rentals have been outlawed since early 2019, amid concerns over their irresponsible use. Riding privately owned e-scooters is permitted.

But concerns remain over the risk they can pose to users and pedestrians.

In March last year, The National reported how UAE hospitals had reported a series of injuries caused by e-scooter accidents.

Doctors said broken bones, bruises and scrapes from falling off the two-wheelers – some can travel at more than 30 kilometres an hour – were common.

Brig Al Naqbi said traffic patrols carried out by Ras Al Khaimah Police had found many young people using e-scooters in unsafe conditions.

Lt Col Saif Abdullah Al Falasi, director of traffic and patrols at Ajman Police, said driving e-scooters on main roads was against the law.

“They lack security means and can go at speeds exceeding 20kph, but they are widespread because of their cheap price,” he said.

The officer said e-scooter manufacturers should specify the age users should be.

“This is because they are aware of the dangers if these vehicles were used by children,” he said.

In June last year, two children were struck by cars while riding e-scooters in Sharjah.

One of them, an Emirati, 13, sustained serious injuries when hit by a car near the Al Lou’Lou’a roundabout in Khor Fakkan.

The other, a fifth grader in the emirate, died 15 days after being run over by a vehicle while riding his e-scooter.

Updated: January 04, 2022, 4:35 AM