E-scooter riders have a tipple, then a topple
E-scooter riders have a tipple, then a topple

E-scooter riders in New Zealand are a worry: first they get tipsy, and then they go topsy-turvy.

A study of 178 e-scooter riders who ended up at Auckland City hospital after up-ending their scooter has revealed an alarming tendency to ride with a few charges under their belt, as well as in their scooter battery.

Almost 50% of the scooter riders tested had alcohol in their system.

The equivalent figure for hospitalised bike riders was 15 per cent.

The study was undertaken over a year after Auckland introduced e-scooter ride share in 2018. It is published in the New Zealand Medical Journal, available to subscribers only.

The number of e-scooter injuries were much higher after 5pm compared with cyclists, and the age-group tended to be younger on average.

E-scooter riders were more likely to have an accident between 5pm and 8am, while bike riders were more at risk during the day between 8am and 5pm.

Trauma and general surgeon Dr Savitha Bhagvan said e-scooter users were more likely to experience isolated falls, whereas cyclists were typically in collisions.

Isolated falls made up 87 per cent of e-scooter hospitalisations compared with collisions, which accounted for 11 per cent.

This was noteworthy because the e-scooter injuries were just as severe, if not worse, than cyclists who had been in a collision.

Bhagvan said protective gear was seldom worn in e-scooter riders.

"This study was done in the very first year when e-scooters were introduced. So there was definitely a novelty factor."

There were few regulations and rules pertaining to e-scooter use at that time, and there were no requirements to wear helmets or rules against drink-driving, she said.

"It was easily accessible, it was cheap, it was fashionable and that's why we saw so many injuries."

She wants to see a zero-tolerance policy for alcohol, mandatory protective gear and stronger road rules for e-scooter riders to minimise accidents and injuries.

"A lot more education is needed, especially with younger people using them," Bhagvan said.

"This study demonstrates a concerningly high e-scooter related hospitalisation rate and suggests e-scooters are currently not as safe as cycling.”

This article was made possible by the support of Bicycle Network's members who enable us to make bike riding better in Australia.