E-scooter injuries sees a rise in hospital attendances, new data shows

E-scooter injuries sees a rise in hospital attendances, new data shows
Brendan Rees

Electric scooter accidents that have resulted in injured riders being taken to hospital have more than tripled in the past year, new data reveals, as popularity in the transport activity grows.  

Data from Monash University’s Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit showed 427 riders attended emergency departments in the past financial year compared to 128 in 2020-21, a jump of 234 per cent.

Most injuries were for fractures with 44 incidents recorded, followed by dislocations, sprains and strains (18), the data showed, which was taken from Victorian public hospitals with 24-hour emergency departments.

The highest proportion of injuries had taken place on a road, street, or highway (which included footpaths) with 250 incidents recorded in the past year compared to 57 in 2020-21.

People aged between 20 and 29 accounted for the highest frequency of e-scooter injuries.

Victorian Injury Surveillance Unit analyst Dr Jane Hayman said the rise in people being taken to hospital was not surprising due to the City of Melbourne being one of four local government areas selected to test an e-scooter hire scheme, alongside two other inner-city councils (Yarra and Port Phillip) and the City of Ballarat, with this form of transport becoming ever more popular.

“In terms of the burden of injury, the numbers are small,” she said, adding 427 hospitalisations were “not alarming” when compared with cyclist injuries which accounted for more than 10,000 emergency presentations each year.

Overall, the data showed the cause of e-scooter injuries were a result of riders falling off, with 344 incidents recorded in the past year, followed by people colliding with vehicles (30), transport injuries (27), and collisions with bikes (five).

Five pedestrians had also been struck in the past year; a new category that hadn’t been recorded in previous years, however, the data did not include pedestrians who had been taken hospital.

Dr Hayman made it clear that the data “doesn’t tell us where the [e-scooter] accident happened” but presumed most had occurred in Melbourne.  

According to the Department of Transport (DoT), more than two million trips have been recorded under the 12-month e-scooter trial (through companies Neuron Mobility and Lime) which began in February 2022.

“The safety of all road users is our priority, and we will continue to work with Victoria Police, participating councils and e-scooter operators to ensure everyone is doing the right thing and staying safe,” a DoT spokesperson said.

“An independent oversight panel will make recommendations about the future of the e-scooter trials closer to their finish date.” •

According to the DoT, both trial operators Lime and Neuron Mobility reported that more than 99.99 per cent of rides have been free of incident since the trial began.  

Victoria Police has issued 744 e-scooter infringements issued across Victoria between December 2021 and October 30, 2022.

“Many of infringements issued are for failure to wear a helmet (183), riding e-scooters on a footpath (243) and carrying more than one person on an e-scooter (123),” a statement from police said.

“Only e-scooters supplied by the approved trial operators in the approved local government areas are permitted for use – privately owned e-scooters continue to be prohibited on public roads, bicycle lanes and footpaths.”

City of Melbourne Lord Mayor Sally Capp said the council had seen a surge in e-scooter use and was participating in the trial to “work out the safest way for this new mode of transport to be used on our streets and roads”.

“We’re confident that Melburnians can use e-scooters responsibly and support Victoria Police’s ongoing campaign to better educate riders about the rules to help keep the community safe,” she said.

A Victoria Walks spokesperson said the fear of being knocked over was front of mind for older walkers.

“We know from police, and from anecdotal observation, that there is illegal e scooter use occurring on footpaths, which makes walking less safe and appealing, particularly for older people and people with vision or mobility impairment,” the spokesperson said.

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