E-scooter boom marred by fatal accidents, German figures show

By DPA | 12 April 2021

FRANKFURT: Skull fractures, lacerations, dislocations, brain injuries, contusions, spinal injuries, dental injuries and burns.

These are just a few of the common e-scooter injuries listed in a January meta-study by Canada's public health authority.

The mobility trend that has swept cities across the planet has been accompanied by many thousands of injuries, mostly among younger people, several studies have shown.

In the latest evidence that e-scooters are a potentially fatal way of getting around, officials in Germany say five people were killed alongside hundreds injured in more than 2,100 serious e-scooter accidents across the country in the past year.

The riders appear to be most at risk and Germany's Federal Statistical Office said more than 80 per cent of the injured people were themselves riding one of the small scooters.

In almost three out of four accidents (about 72 per cent), the e-scooter rider was mainly responsible.

According to the data, there were particularly frequent riding accidents in which the rider lost control of the e-scooter without anyone else being involved. At 18.3 per cent, alcohol consumption was the most frequent cause.

The accidents mostly happened to younger people: 76 per cent were less than 45 years old, and a third were under 25 years old.

And yet e-scooters still play a comparatively minor role in accidents, at least going by Germany's figures. In 2020, the police registered a total of 264,000 accidents with injuries, of which 0.8 per cent involved e-scooters.

The figures are reflected elsewhere in places where e-scooters have become an everyday means of getting around the city thanks to rental services from companies like Bird, Lime and Uber.

A 2020 study in the US warned of a "dramatic increase in injuries" during the initial boom of e-scooters after 2017.

The meta-study by Canada's public health authority in the state of Ontario paints a picture of the most common accident scenarios: Falls, loss of balance/control, collision with a vehicle, collision with an object (e.g. pole, gate), collision with pedestrians, excessive speed, road condition (e.g., uneven surface), medical event, scooter malfunction and dual riders.

Experts say the best way to ride an e-scooter is to stand as far back as possible with your knees slightly bent. Additionally, don't brake abruptly. Instead, reduce your speed and ride cautiously if you want to avoid tipping over into the street.

The wheels don't always have the best traction, so when you're trying to brake on a wet or slippery surface, be sure to use both the front and rear brakes - if you have both, of course - to avoid losing control.