E-scooter riders 'more likely to be seriously injured than cyclists'

UK study finds electric scooter users less likely to wear a helmet than those cycling

A report recommends tightening regulations to boost safety levels for E-scooter users on UK roads. Getty Images
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Electric scooter riders involved in accidents are more likely to suffer serious injury than cyclists, new research in the UK suggests.

The E-scooters have a fan base in cities among people wanting to get around faster than it would take to walk, but although it is legal to buy and own one in the UK, only rental models are allowed on the roads.

The vehicles are gradually being introduced around the world but the rules in place differ greatly, with various age limit and speed limits imposed on riders.

Now researchers have warned tighter regulations may be needed to boost safety levels.

Three out of five (60 per cent) e-scooter users admitted to hospital after a collision in England and Wales in 2021 were admitted to a major trauma centre, a study published in online journal Injury Prevention found. That compared with 47 per cent of cyclists.

Injured e-scooter riders were less likely to have worn a helmet (7 per cent, against 47 per cent of cyclists) and were nearly three times more likely to be intoxicated (26 per cent, versus 7 per cent of cyclists), the report said.

“These preliminary results indicate that [their] use may result in a higher relative rate of hospital admission due to significant trauma than bicycles and, in particular, higher rates of severe head injury,” the researchers said.

“As the number of e-scooter trips taken continues to grow, further legislation and tighter regulation of e-scooter rentals are required to reduce the already significant burden of injury associated with this mode of transport.”

Researchers found a higher rate of serious head injuries among e-scooter riders (35 per cent) than cyclists (20 per cent).

Riders also tended to be younger than cyclists admitted to hospital, with an average age of 35 compared with 50.

The study was conducted by researchers from Queen Mary University of London and St Mary’s Hospital.

The UK's Department for Transport figures show 11 e-scooter users were killed and a further 347 were seriously injured in Britain during the 12 months to the end of June.

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E-scooter riders need a licence from the Dubai authorities to use the two-wheelers, a major change last year to transport rules.

In Germany, scooters are principally allowed on specified bike paths or lanes but there are times when they can be used on the road.

Rome has tightened speed limits as has Paris, where there are lower speed restrictions around some of the main tourist sites, including Le Louvre.

Norway and Finland have banned riding late at night, while Denmark, Spain and Norway have introduced mandatory helmet laws.

Poland allows 10 year olds to ride. For Austria, Norway and France it is 12, while Finland does not have a minimum age.

The European Transport Safety Council (ETSC) wants a 20kph factory-set speed limit, larger wheels, a ban on passengers and pavement riding, compulsory helmets and a minimum age of 16.

“E-scooters are now a common sight in European cities, but sadly so too are seriously injured e-scooter riders in hospitals," ETSC executive director Antonio Avenoso said.

"To break the link between the increased numbers of these vehicles and the increased numbers of injuries, we need some sensible measures to keep riders and other road users safe."

There are hopes that e-scooters could replace cars for many short journeys — a greener option as the country tackles climate change and strives to achieve net-zero targets.

In the UK, private e-scooters cannot yet be legally used on roads or pavements but have become a common sight.

Trials of rental e-scooters on roads in dozens of towns and cities across England have been extended until May 2024.

Updated: February 28, 2023, 11:30 PM