By Jim Leffman
E-scooter riders are likely to come off worse than cyclists in a crash and suffer more severe head injuries, a new UK study reveals at the Queen Mary University of London.
Researchers are calling for tighter regulation after their study shows that e-scooter riders are also more likely to die or suffer arm and leg injuries than cyclists.
One of the study authors, Dr. Christopher Aylwin at the Centre for Trauma Sciences, Queen Mary University of London, said: “These preliminary results indicate that their 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.”
The study comprised an audit of trauma care in England and Wales following rental trials in 57 UK locations including London in 2021.
Many private e-scooters are ridden on roads despite them only being legal in public on rental vehicles where trials are taking place.
At present, riders have to be 17 and have a provisional driving license. Laws relating to drink and drug driving also apply to them.
However, after public consultation, helmet use was made voluntary, maximum power was raised from 350 W to 500 W and the maximum permitted speed was raised to 15.5 mph from 12.5 mph.
In the USA cities with dock less bike share and e-scooter fleets first appeared in 2017. As of July 2022, there are 45 dock less bike share systems and 300 e-scooter systems (not counting systems limited to college or employer campuses), according to the Department of Transportation.
The study, published online in the journal Injury Prevention, compiles evidence from across England and Wales and submitted to the UK Trauma Audit and Research Network (TARN) in 2021.
This allowed them to look at the bigger picture and compare injuries to that of cyclists.
Although more cyclists (2,538) ended up needing treatment, e-scooter riders (293) were more likely to be admitted to a major trauma center or a critical care unit, 60% versus 47%.
E-scooter riders were almost three times as likely as cyclists to be drunk or high (26% versus 7%) at the time of the incident and less likely to have worn a helmet (7% versus 47%).
And they were twice as likely as cyclists to sustain their injuries between 6 pm and midnight.
Most of the injured were men but e-scooter riders tended to be younger at 35 compared to 50 for cyclists. Almost a sixth (14%) were aged 16 or under compared with only 8.5% of cyclists.
When it came to serious injuries sustained, head injuries in e-scooters were 35% compared to 20% for cyclists.
Almost twice the number of e-scooter riders had the most severe head injuries (28% versus 15%). Thirty-seven out of the 41 critical injuries (90%) among the e-scooter riders were head injuries.
They also scored higher on leg and arm injuries, 40% versus 27%.
However, serious chest injuries were more common among cyclists at 32.5% against 17%. Double the number of cyclists had the most severe chest injuries at 11% against five percent.
On the good side, death was rare among both groups but still higher for e-scooter riders at three percent compared to two percent of cyclists.
But at 20%, significantly more e-scooter riders required critical care than cyclists at 15%.
More than 80% of both groups were discharged home after treatment.
Significant injury for cyclists was nine times that of e-scooter riders but as bike use is at least nine times greater than e-scooter use, researchers think that it is possible that e-scooters are resulting in higher rates of trauma than bikes.
The study didn’t take account of injuries to pedestrians or other road users, added to which only patients admitted to hospital are included in the TARN database, so the true impact of injury from e-scooters may be even greater.
Dr. Aylwin added: “E-scooters are an emerging mode of transport in the UK, and full characterization of rates and types of injury will require ongoing study.”
E-scooters are seen as greener than cars for short local journeys and this has fueled the rapid adoption of e-scooter rental trials globally.
Produced in association with SWNS Talker
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