As we come to the end of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers (APIL) Injury Prevention Week 2022, I hope you will have seen many similar posts from fellow Injury Claims lawyers, highlighting the importance to us of accident prevention.
Though this may seem counter-intuitive to those who may view us as 'ambulance chasers' or contributing to 'compensation culture', we see the devastating impact accidents and injuries can have on individuals and their families on a daily basis. We therefore understand even more the need to focus on safety and avoiding needless harm.
The timely focus of this year's #IPWeek2022 is on electric scooters, more commonly known as e-scooters. Over the last couple of years, I've closely followed the increase in use of these vehicles in our cities and towns including in my own city, Bristol, where a trial of rented e-scooters led jointly by the private company Voi and various local authorities, is taking place.
What has been all too clear to me is that the use of both private and authorised rental e-scooters on our roads and, unfortunately, pavements has sadly resulted in a significant number of accidents and injuries.
In 2021 there were nearly 900 casualties from collisions involving e-scooters. Some injuries were catastrophic and some incidents resulted in death. A quick search of the BBC website brings up four news stories of incidents involving e-scooters around the country, resulting in death or serious injury, in the last month alone.
The UK Government is planning to legalise the use of privately-owned e-scooters on public roads. But as APIL states, it is estimated this will lead to an influx of up to 750,000 e-scooters on the roads. Will there be enough time to implement appropriate safety measures and will the resources be there to properly implement and police them?
Whilst it may seem that too much emphasis is being put on the increased use of e-scooters in comparison with established methods of transport, such as cars and bicycles, I do think e-scooters as a vehicle present a number of particular challenges to their riders, other road users and pedestrians (particularly those who are more vulnerable due to sight or hearing impairments, the very old or very young).
E-scooters move quickly in relation to their size. Their design can mean they are prone to being unstable, particularly on poorly maintained road surfaces. A combination of their size (making some people feel vulnerable using them on the roads with cars) and easier access to smaller spaces, means they are more likely to be ridden on pavements and in other pedestrian-only areas, even though this is not legal.
A 2021 Department for Transport Report found that males, younger respondents (particularly those aged 16-24) and those living in urban areas were more likely to say they would buy or hire an e-scooter. It is important therefore that education and raising-awareness around the use and safety of e-scooters is thoughtfully targeted at these groups.
Overall, there is a long way to go and a lot to learn in the process of legalising the use of private e-scooters and developing those which are rented.
The increased use of e-scooters has the potential to provide huge benefits in allowing people to get round towns and cities in an efficient and environmentally-friendly way. We are in a unique position to set out new laws and guidelines for their use to ensure that they are also a safe form of transport for all.
If would like any further advice on the use of e-scooters, please remember we are here to provide specialist help.
In 2021 there were nearly 900 casualties from collisions involving e-scooters. Some injuries were catastrophic, and some incidents resulted in death. With the scale of use set to increase, safety is an important issue for everyone whether they use e-scooters or not. During Injury Prevention Week this year we want to highlight the legislative, and practical, measures which would help to protect people and reduce the number of these incidents.