E-scooter riders more likely to be seriously injured than cyclists, study shows

E-scooter riders involved in crashes are more likely than cyclists to sustain serious injuries, researchers have found.

They are also more likely to be young men riding without helmets – and either drunk or on drugs, they said

Three out of five e-scooter users admitted to a hospital following a crash found themselves in a major trauma ward in England and Wales in 2021.

This compared to around one in two cyclists, the study published in the online journal Injury Prevention yesterday found.

Almost twice the number of e-scooter riders had severe head injuries, with 37 out of the 41 admitted e-scooterists experiencing such trauma.

Four in 10 e-scooter riders also suffered some form of leg and arm injury compared to just shy of three in 10 bike riders.

Researchers chalked this up to how just 7% of injured e-scooter users wore helmets (versus 45%) and were three times more likely to be drunk or on drugs (26% versus 7%).

Yet researchers found that those riding bikes scored higher on serious chest injuries (32.5% versus 17%).

The Queen Mary University of London investigators looked at trauma ward admission records compiled by the Trauma Audit and Research Network.

Researchers combed through the audit on trauma care in England and Wales following rental trials in 57 UK locations across 2021.

They said this was the first nationwide study to look at the different injury patterns between the two groups.

In 2021, 293 e-scooter riders and 2,583 cyclists were admitted to hospital after a road accident.

Generally, cyclists were nine times more likely to experience an accident than e-scooter riders.

But study author Christopher Aylwin stresses that there are at least nine times more bikers in the UK than there are e-scooter users.

Injured riders, whether it be on a bike or an e-scooters, tended to be male. Though, injured people on e-scooter were usually younger, with an average of 35 compared to 50 for cyclists.

People dying as a result of crashes was low regardless of what they were riding, with only 3% of cyclists admitted to trauma wards dying of their injuries compared to 2% of e-scooter users.

Aylwin concluded: ‘E-scooters are an emerging mode of transport in the UK, and full characterisation of rates and types of injury will require ongoing study.

‘However, these preliminary results indicate that e-scooter use may result in a higher relative rate of hospital admission due to significant trauma than bicycles and, in particular, higher rates of severe head injury.

‘As the number of e-scooter trips taken continues to grow, further legislation and tighter regulation of e-scooter rental are required to reduce the already significant burden of injury associated with this mode of transport.’

Department for Transport figures show 11 e-scooter riders were killed and another 347 were seriously injured during the 12 months to the end of June 2022.

E-mobility devices have surged in popularity in recent years, raising safety concerns as policy officials figure out how best to make them a part of daily life.

In the UK, people can only ride an e-scooter it’s along private land or from a government hire scheme.

But dozens of cities and towns have slowly embraced e-scooters, with officials extending a trial of them being on public roads until May 2024.

Though safety worries are still lingering, with some local authorities stopping the trial scheme short altogether after a pensioner was ‘seriously injured’ in a crash.

E-scooter companies such as Bird have responded by capping the maximum speed riders can go and introducing patrollers to catch and rulebreakers.

Last year, a coalition of nine transport organisations called on the government to speed up plans to count e-scooters as a new class of light electric vehicles.

They argued that legislating e-scooters would ensure the vehicles’ safety standards are up to scratch.

Transport campaigners say electric-powered bikes, scooters and even skateboards could replace gas-guzzling cars for short journeys.

They take up next to no street space for parking and are affordable, they say, adding that the vehicles plug the gap in public transit systems for journeys that are too far to walk but too close to board a bus or train.

Though researchers have said that, while e-scooters tend to be emission-free, how they’re made and popped into place isn’t always.

Disability activists stress work needs to be done to ensure e-scooters are visible and audible enough that blind and partially sighted people can detect them as they zip down streets.

The sight of e-scooters being discarded along footpaths, being that they tend to be dockless, also poses challenges for wheelchair users.

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