A new study has found that e-scooters are a lot safer than many may think – five times safer than bikes, writes Andy Weltch.
A report into the safety of e-scooters by The Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (RoSPA) found an incident rate for e-scooters of 0.66 collisions for every million miles travelled – five times lower than bicycles with 3.33 collisions per million miles travelled and nine times lower than the figure of 5.88 for motorcycles.
The study was carried out by the UK’s leading accident prevention charity RoSPA, with technical assistance from safety-focused e-scooter operator Neuron Mobility. It assessed the scale and nature of injury risk associated with e-scooters compared to other modes of transport. It covers data gathered by the Department for Transport (DfT) and provided by Neuron for 2020.
With the numbers of e-scooters in the UK increasing sharply since 2020, both as part of the Government’s ongoing trials and often illegal use of private e-scooters, RoSPA says there’s a pressing need for more research.
Almost all of the incidents involving e-scooters (94%) were in local authority areas that were not operating an e-scooter trial as opposed to areas with shared e-scooters available, further highlighting that so far, the UK’s shared e-scooter trials have proven to be remarkably safe.
Shared e-scooter schemes tend to feature a range of safety innovations and stricter rules and regulations when compared to privately owned e-scooters which are currently illegal for use on public land. For example, Neuron’s rental e-scooters, which have been approved by the DfT, are fitted with GPS and geofencing which controls where they can be ridden and parked and their speed in different areas. With this technology, Neuron is able to set riding area boundaries, slow-zones, no-parking zones, and no-ride zones. Every trip is logged and all e-scooters have insurance, integrated safety helmets, identification plates, topple detection, and with daily safety checks and regular servicing, they are widely regarded as a safer option than private e-scooters.
Almost all the incidents took place on the roads (94%), mostly on unsegregated single carriageways. The vast majority involved a collision between an e-scooter and a larger powered vehicle like a car, truck or lorry, highlighting the need for improved infrastructure and protection for riders.
Most collisions were between 2pm and 7pm, with peaks at 3pm and 6pm. Men (77%) were far more likely to be involved than women.
Based on these findings, the report makes a set of recommendations, including:
- Further investment in road design improvements, including segregated bike and e-scooter lanes, would be beneficial.
- Safety standards should be applied to improve the visibility of e-scooters on the road, including those that relate to indication, lighting and braking.
- Providing mandatory training on the Highway Code and the practical operation of e-scooters would benefit users.
- Awareness and training on e-scooter behaviour for other road users, in particular car drivers, would be beneficial.
- e-scooter users should be encouraged to wear helmets when riding.
Nathan Davies, Executive Head of Policy and Portfolio at RoSPA said: “This report shows that e-scooters compare favourably to other kinds of vehicles and do not represent any greater safety risk to other road users and pedestrians. However, there is still a lot of work that needs to be done to ensure they are integrated on our highways and make sure both e-scooter riders and cyclists are offered greater protections from motor vehicles, which were the source of the vast majority of incidents.”
Read the report here.
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