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Accidents involving E-Scooters On The Rise

Nov 2020


Many users of e-scooters underestimate the speed of their vehicle.

As of mid-June 2019, the use of “e-scooters” is now permitted on German roads with no license re-quired. These vehicles still play a relatively minor role in terms of the country’s accident statistics. Ac-cording to the German Federal Statistical Office, 251 accidents involving personal light electric vehicles occurred in the first quarter of 2020. As a result of these accidents, one e-scooter user was killed, 39 were severely injured, and 182 suffered minor injuries. By way of comparison, police recorded more than 12,700 accidents that resulted in injuries to cyclists across Germany in the first three months of 2020. In figures, this broke down into 52 deaths, 2,052 severe injuries, and 10,431 minor injuries. The use of e-scooters has been permitted for some time in many other EU member states, as well as other countries such as the USA. As the number of these vehicles on the roads has increased, so too have the accident figures in some areas.

For example, a study published by the University of California in San Francisco showed that the number of scooter-related injuries recorded in the USA rose 222 percent between 2014 and 2018, to more than 39,000. Even more worryingly, the number of hospitalizations over this period increased 365 per-cent to 3,300. The most common victims were aged between 18 and 34. The study was based on accident statistics provided by the National Electronic Injury Surveillance System.

A study on e-scooters conducted in Austin, Tex-as between September 5 and November 30, 2018, has also attracted attention. Over the course of this 87-day period, the study recorded 192 injuries requiring treatment – a little over two per day. Over 60 percent of those injured stated that they had ridden an e-scooter less than ten times before the accident occurred. Fewer than one percent of the e-scooter users injured in the study were wearing a helmet at the time, and almost 50 percent of them suffered head injuries.

In light of the increasing number of e-scooter accidents, Berlin’s Charité hospital has also conducted a study into the causes of these accidents and the resulting injuries. For this study, the team around Prof. Martin Möckel, Head of Emergency Medicine and Acute Care at the Charité Mitte and Virchow-Klinikum campuses, examined a total of 24 patients aged between 12 and 62 during July 2019. These experts noted that the injuries typically suffered by people using these vehicles included lacerations to the upper ankle, fractures to the upper extremities, and head injuries. In fact, head injuries were suffered by more than half of the patients in the study. Most of these injuries were minor contusions with abrasions. Four of the 24 patients showed signs of minor traumatic brain injury. The large number of soft-tissue injuries to the lower extremities in the vicinity of the upper ankle were caused by accidents where the user was not careful enough when setting off on the e-scooter. The main causes of the accidents were carelessness, a failure to observe the traffic regulations, and impaired driving ability due to the user having consumed drugs or alcohol prior to embarking on the journey. These results show that, as an additional form of mobility, e-scooters pose a risk to their users that is not to be underestimated. At the same time, they also represent a challenge for the existing traffic system.

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