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Government must “get a grip” on illegal e-scooters, PACTS report finds

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An independent charity looking into the safety of private e-scooters in the UK is urging the Government to slap a 12.5mph speed limit on the vehicles after it found fifteen people had died in accidents. 

Under the new proposals, no one under the age of 16 would be able to ride a private e-scooter, helmet wearing would become mandatory, and riding on pavements or public footpaths and carrying passengers would become criminal offences. 

The investigation, which was undertaken by the Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), found that fifteen people have died, including 11 in 2021 after illegally using private e-scooters. 

In around 20% of the crash incidents, other road users were injured and 75% involved pedestrians. 

PACTS said 38% of those injured in a collision involving an e-scooter suffered serious injuries, 68% of which were head injuries or fractures. 

Furthermore, over half involved riders aged under 29, while 29% of them were aged 10 to 19.

While there are now 23,000 e-scooters available to hire as part of the UK e-scooter trial, the real growth has been in private e-scooters.  

Since 2019, more than one million private e-scooters have been imported to the UK.

And though they can legally be sold by retailers, they are illegal to use on public roads and in public spaces. 

In 2021 alone, collated records from the police, insurers and media shows there have been almost 900 casualties, with 20% involving injuries to pedestrians and cyclists. Added to this is that hospitals are treating increasing numbers of casualties with severe head injuries, which have been incurred at a high rate relative to the distance travelled.

The safety advisory group said academic studies have shown that instabilities caused by an e-scooter’s design poses a risk to riders. It recommends two independently controlled braking devices, one acting on the front wheel and one acting on the rear wheel. It also suggests that the front wheel size be a minimum of 12 inches and the rear wheel size be a minimum of 10 inches.

The report, funded by The Road Safety Trust, recommends a total of 14 safety regulations if the Government decides to legalise the use of private e-scooters. 

David Davies, PACTS Executive Director, said: “e-scooters are a controversial issue and risks to riders and pedestrians are increasingly apparent. The Government should act now to curb dangerous and illegal use. Even if the Government decides on the way forward soon, legislation will not take effect until sometime next year. They should take this opportunity to gather evidence and consult widely – something which should have happened before the rental trials started but was curtailed by the pandemic.”

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