IAM RoadSmart, the UK’s largest independent road safety charity, is calling for a decision from the Government amid an increasing number of accidents on UK roads involving e-scooters.
The plea comes after the Department for Transport (DfT)’s latest findings in: Reported Road casualties Great Britain, annual report: 2020 revealed for the first time that there were 484 casualties involving e-scooters, of which one person was killed, 128 were seriously injured and 355 slightly injured.
These findings come after e-scooter firms were given the green light to start trials on UK streets in July 2020, sparking a surge in e-scooter usage. This decision was made in light of COVID-19 and social distancing regulations, which meant people needed to get around without resorting to buses and trains.
However, the results of these pilot schemes have been continuously delayed, meaning a full review of the status of this new form of transport is yet to be established.
“By delaying yet again the results of the pilot schemes we have another Christmas looming where people will be buying and using a totally unregulated form of transport in the UK,” says Neil Greig, director of policy and research at IAM RoadSmart. “The pilots were launched in July 2020 and are now not due to finish until March 2022, plus the time required after that for analysis and legislation – this has taken far too long in our opinion. In the meantime, the police should make it absolutely clear that anyone caught riding an e-scooter outside private land or a trial area will have their vehicle seized immediately. E-scooters may have a role to play in the future transport mix, but this can only happen once their legal status has been made completely clear and that cannot happen soon enough.”
The need to clarify their legal status is further stressed by safety concerns revealed in a recent survey by IAM RoadSmart, which received over 1,850 responses. Indeed, the survey uncovered that the safety of pedestrians and cyclists was the most important consideration (94%) for formulating new legislation on e-scooters.
The DfT’s latest report also revealed that between 2004 and 2020, serious injuries of cyclists (adjusted) rose by 26% and fatalities increased from 134 to 141 (5%). However, this is because pedal cycle traffic has also risen between 2004 and 2020, at a rate faster than serious injuries. And in the period from 2015 to 2020, an average of 2 pedal cyclists died and 83 were seriously injured (adjusted) per week in reported road casualties.
“While there are signs of improvement, with cycle traffic increasing at a faster rate than serious injuries, it is important to recognize that cyclists are one of the most vulnerable road user groups,” says Greig. “Cyclists are harder to spot for drivers on the road, and they are not protected by a metal cage in the same way car users are. The most common factor allocated in pedal cyclist versus other vehicle collisions was ‘Driver or rider failed to look properly’, underlining the critical importance of observation and anticipation in ensuring we can all share the roads safely.”
The full report from DfT can be found here.