With trials of rental e-scooters now commonplace in many towns and cities, and the future use of their privately-owned counterparts set for debate in 2022, the safety implications of this emerging, yet controversial, mode of transport remains heavily scrutinised.
For the first time in September 2021, the DfT published statistics showing the number of casualties in collisions involving e-scooters.
The figures, which cover rental and privately-owned e-scooters, highlight that during 2020 there were 460 collisions involving e-scooters, resulting in a total of 484 casualties.
Figures are also now available for the 12-months to June 2021, showing 931 casualties.
While nearly doubling, the increase shouldn’t come as a surprise, given that the first rental trials only got underway in July 2020 – with many more following since, including the largest in London in June 2021.
The DfT acknowledges that it is “not yet able to fully assess the quality of the e-scooter data captured in STATS19, in terms of consistency of recording practice for e-scooters across different police force areas, so data should be treated with caution.”
In other words, the figures are ‘drastically’ under-reported.
So says the National Federation of the Blind UK (NFBUK), who is highlighting the issue as part of its long-standing and vociferous campaign against the use of e-scooters.
- Click here to listen to an episode of the RSGB Talk podcast, titled ‘E-scooters: the dangers they pose for visually impaired people’
NFBUK points to statistics published by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) as part of an ongoing research project to assess the safety of private e-scooters.
The project is gathering data of casualties involving private e-scooters (riders and other road users) collected from the media, police forces and at least one major trauma centre.
The figures show that at three A&E departments in Bristol there were 90 e-scooter related injuries during a four-week period in May/June 2021 – equating to 3.2 patients a day.
However, the DfT data shows that Avon and Somerset Police only reported 21 e-scooter casualties for the six-month period January-June 2021.
Moreover, nearly 20% of those who attended one the Bristol A&E departments suffered head injuries – with three patients sustaining severe traumatic brain injury, intracranial haemorrhage or a skull fracture.
Sarah Gayton, street access campaign coordinator at the NFBUK, said: “These figures are terrifying.
“It appears the price for the e-scooter trial in Bristol – and allowing the ongoing use of illegal e-scooters on the streets – is being paid by those who are now living with life changing injuries.
“This has to stop; the accident rate is horrific and this should make the (Bristol) council take immediate action to halt the trial.
“It should also be a wake-up call for the Government to take action to stop the shops selling private ones.
“No more time is required to trial them; they should never be legalised and the sooner they are off the streets the better for everyone.”
However, work is ongoing to improve the situation.
The DfT says in future, e-scooter casualties will be better captured as part of a new ‘powered personal transporter’ category – being introduced as part of a recent STATS19 review.
The DfT is also liaising with PACTS as part of their project.
David Davies, executive director of PACTS, said: “The DfT data is from police STATS19 reports.
“It is well established that casualties not involving a motor vehicle tend to be particularly under-reported. Whereas the Bristol hospital data showed 70% of e-scooters casualties did not involve another motor vehicle – the DFT data recorded only 20%.
“Meanwhile, the DfT (e-scooter data) factsheet reports three deaths in the year to June 2021 – whereas PACTS has been notified of five. This may be due to lags in police reports or because some may have happened off the highway.
“The DfT is working with PACTS to compare data sets and better understand the overall situation.”