A row of e-scooters lined up on a city street illustrating the pros and cons of e-scooters

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E-Scooters – The Pros and Cons

With rental schemes across the UK and demand on the rise in other areas, Paul Brown looks at the advantages, as well as some of the dangers, of e-scooters.

There has, following a government consultation, been the introduction of over 30 e-scooter rental schemes across the UK including Liverpool, Newcastle, Nottingham and London.

It should be noted that private e-scooter use i.e., those not included in the rental schemes are still illegal on public roads as they don’t currently meet Road Traffic Act 1988 requirements including appropriate insurance, road tax, and technical safety standards.

Also, the use of e-scooters on pavements, cycle paths and public footpaths are also illegal because “mechanically propelled vehicles” are banned due to the provisions of the Highways Act 1980 other than to gain access to property or in case of emergency.

Air pollution is, however, the top environmental risk to human health in the UK, and the fourth greatest threat to public health after cancer, heart disease and obesity. Therefore, these e-scooter rental schemes are designed to provide a viable greener alternative to using cars in urban areas especially for shorter journeys.

There are therefore a number of advantages from the e-scooter rental schemes including:

  • A potential reduction to environmental impact of vehicle use and improved air quality
  • The e-scooters are cheaper to run for short journeys
  • Potential mental and physical health benefits   
  • Providing more integrated transport solutions
  • Potential reduction of congestion in city centres

However, as the number of serious accidents involving e-scooters continues to grow there are calls by the Major Trauma Group for increased regulation and awareness around the risks associated with the use of e-scooters.

Back in June 2020 an influential safety organisation raised serious doubts about the safety of electric scooters on public roads and pavements.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), which advises members of Parliament on air, rail and road safety issues, described e-scooters as having features which are ‘inherently unsafe’.

Safety concerns of e-scooters

In a report submitted to the UK’s Department for Transport, PACTS raised the following concerns:

  • The small wheels of e-scooters are incapable of safely negotiating the ruts, potholes and uneven surfaces of many urban streets.
  • There is no mandatory helmet use being prescribed by law therefore users are often using the e-scooters without using helmets which are often provided with the e-scooters.
  • E-scooters have neither mirrors nor indicators, which make it very difficult for riders to see vehicles approaching from behind or to signal their intentions to other drivers or road users. Indeed, the majority of e-scooters within trials have the throttle on the handlebar, so any riders cannot lift off a hand to signal a turn in the way that a cyclist can.
  • The standing position of an e-scooter is unstable, putting riders in danger of being thrown forward more quickly and with more force than a cyclist. This according to the Danish Transport Authority leads to much higher rates of head injury – estimated to be eight times higher than a cyclist.
  • The lights on e-scooters, if there are any, are normally at a very low level, which makes them much less visible than a bicycle. This therefore means during hours of darkness (which will be particularly an issue during winter months) they are not as visible as bicycles.

PACTS has now been awarded a grant by the Road Safety Trust to collect data relating to incidents involving e-scooters and to form recommendations for their construction and use. 

Over the coming months PACTS will:

  • gather data of casualties involving e-scooters (riders and other road users) collected from the media, academics and police forces as well as from at least one major trauma centre, and publicly share their findings; 
  • publish a report summarising their findings and recommendations for regulation of private e-scooters – construction and use.

The Major Trauma Group, of which Burnetts is a proud member, are joining PACTS to request that if e-scooter use on roads and in other public places is to be legalised then there must be legislation to include evidence-based safety measures to protect the riders and other road users. This will hopefully reduce further needless injuries to e-scooters riders, pedestrians and other road users.

Can Major Trauma Group help?

Major Trauma Group is a network of specialist serious injury law firms, experienced in dealing with claims following major trauma. We can provide assistance to clients throughout England and Wales and we are supported by a medical clinician who can advise on rehabilitation, independent financial advisers and case managers who are all highly experienced in this field. If you would like to contact one of our members, you can email us at hello@majortraumagroup.co.uk and phone us on 0330 311 2578.

View the PACTS website:

To view the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety website, click below or visit:

https://www.pacts.org.uk/

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