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As more cities try to legalise and implement shared electric scooter schemes, the e-scooter market continues to increase and spread globally. In fact, e-scooters are expected to reach half a billion rides globally this year. After all, many commuters are opting to ride e-scooters due to their quick, convenient, and affordable transport solution.
However, usage increase has also led to an increase in safety concerns. Since the launch of e-scooters, there have been several reports of e-scooter accidents globally. As a result, many commuters and legislators perceive e-scooters as a risk and danger. However, are electric scooters dangerous?
Here’s why e-scooters are perceived as dangerous and why e-scooters are safer than you think.
Electric scooter accidents and complaints
Despite bans and regulations from local governments, these laws still can’t prevent deaths due to e-scooter accidents. In the United States, around 30 people have already died riding e-scooters since 2018. 80 per cent of these deaths were due to car collisions.
Meanwhile, in London, collisions have risen sharply from four in 2018 to 32 in 2019. Moreover, researchers say that electric scooters are expected to be involved in up to 200,000 accidents this year as e-scooter ownership increases in the UK.
In Australia, several e-scooter accidents and deaths have also been reported in recent years. Just last month, a man riding an e-scooter was killed during a collision in Brisbane’s CBD. According to the report, the man in his 50s lost control of his e-scooter and crashed into a pole. The paramedics who arrived on the scene couldn’t revive the man.
Aside from these accidents, e-scooters and e-scooter riders also get complaints from pedestrians. Some people complain about inconsiderate riders and poor parking practices. Clive Hamilton, the author and professor of public ethics has also called Canberra to ban the trial.
Due to these various risks, accidents, and complaints, electric scooters are perceived as a danger and harm to riders and pedestrians. E-scooters are also treated as a nuisance due to the poor practices of some e-scooter riders.
Electric scooters are less dangerous as you think
Are electric scooters safe? Despite the reported accidents and calls for banning e-scooters, research has also proven that e-scooters are less dangerous as you think. German statistics agency Destatis reported that e-scooter accidents only take up less than one per cent of all vehicular accidents resulting in injury in 2020. According to the report, 2,155 or 0.8% of the 264,000 accidents recorded in the country in 2020 were caused by e-scooters.
Moreover, compared to bicycle accidents, e-scooters pose fewer risks. In fact, German police recorded around 91,500 bicycle accidents that resulted in personal injury. So, are electric scooters more dangerous than bicycles? According to statistics, it seems that riding e-scooters is safer than riding bicycles.
In addition, Prof Narelle Haworth from the Centre for Accident Research and Road Safety – Queensland says that initial data from Australia and New Zealand showing that e-scooters were more dangerous than bicycles may have not been realistic. Haworth says that the results may have been skewed by inexperienced riders, uncapped speeds, helmet availability, braking problems, and smaller wheels of the early shared e-scooters.
Haworth also said, “We don’t seem to be getting many pedestrians hit. Realistically, most of the danger of e-scooters so far in Brisbane is to the riders themselves.”
What causes e-scooter accidents?
Many would think that there are problems with e-scooters, which are causing the reported accidents. However, the two main causes of e-scooter accidents are actually intoxication and improperly using cycle lanes or riding on footpaths.
According to German police reports, 18 per cent of e-scooter accidents were due to drunk riders. It’s also worth noting that accidents due to e-scooter riders are higher than the accidents due to drunk car drivers. Meanwhile, when emergency departments took blood alcohol levels, a New Zealand study found that “almost 20% of the e-scooter group tested positive for alcohol compared to 6% of the cyclists, with almost all cases in both groups testing over the legal driving limit for alcohol”.
Meanwhile, another main cause for accidents are riders not travelling in the correct paths or roads. In the German study, almost 400 accidents happened due to e-scooters not following road rules. Also, almost half of the e-scooter accidents only involved the rider.
Given these causes, it can be concluded that most accidents are due to irresponsible riding practices and not the e-scooters themselves. While e-scooters can malfunction and cause accidents, that’s very rarely the cause. To lessen e-scooter risks and accidents, e-scooter education, proper compliance, and the right infrastructure are necessary to provide riders and pedestrians with a safe riding environment.
Tips to ride safely and responsibly
Remember that the safest electric scooter is one that is in top condition and is ridden by a responsible rider. Follow these tips to ride safely and responsibly when riding in public or on private property.
1. Check e-scooter before riding
Whether you’re riding a shared or private electric scooter, always check the components of the electric scooter before riding. Make sure to check the tyres, brakes, acceleration, battery level, and other components to ensure that the e-scooter is in top condition.
2. Wear proper protective gear
Regardless if you’re riding in public or on private property, make it a habit to wear a helmet to protect yourself in case of falling or collision. Add more protection to your body by wearing gloves, elbow and knee pads, and eye protection.
3. Follow road rules
Lastly, know your city’s electric scooter laws. Also, know which areas allow e-scooters and which do not. Following regulations will not only prevent any accidents but also prevent you from getting fined.
Keep the following tips in mind to keep yourself safe when riding. For more electric scooter guides and tips, check out more of Mearth’s blogs.
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